TAMPA (FOX 13) - They were months away from having their first baby. Then he arrived in just hours, following an emergency delivery.
March of Dimes works to find out why premature births happen, and families like this one are anxious to know the answers.
Before 2-year-old Rakesh was born, his mom and dad said they had no idea how rough his birth would be.
Preethum Prithviraj, Rakesh's dad, described how they felt.
"A shock. We always planned on that normal pregnancy," he explained.
Rakesh was born 25-weeks early, at one pound, eight ounces. No one knows why. Not even the best minds in medicine.
"There were no risk factors, that we know about, that caused us to deliver him early," Rakesh's mother, Gopi said.
Preethum added, "there's so much left to do. There's still a lot of research, still trying to find out what causes prematurity."
Preethum and Gopi Prithviraj are passionate supporters of the March of Dimes and the mission to find answers.
"He was in the hospital for 94 days," Gopi said. "The first two months was teaching him how to breath because he was born so early."
March of Dimes funded many of the treatments and therapies to help struggling premies breathe.
Today, Rakesh is an active toddler, growing and thriving. His parents said the only set-back he has is speech delay.
"He still communicates, he knows sign language, so that's how we communicate now," Preethum explained.
They encourage everyone to support March of Dimes to secure a healthier future for children.
"I think if we can prevent this from happening to somebody else, I think that's fantastic," Preethum said.