If you’ve never believed in a higher power before, you will now. On Thursday, May 16, Ryan Seacrest helped reunite a man named Matthew Christian Whitaker with the woman who saved his life back in 1998 after he was abandoned and buried alive as a newborn on a hiking trail in Altadena, California.
At the time, Azita Milanian was jogging with her dogs when one of them stopped to uncover what she thought was a dead animal. She, instead, found baby Matthew, wrapped in only a towel with his umbilical cord still attached and covered in dirt. After baby Matthew recovered at a hospital, child services took over and he was adopted.
Fast-forward 20 years later and thanks to a friend submitting Matthew for a 23 and Me DNA kit, Ryan was able to reconnect Matthew and Azita, who calls him Christian after the hospital named him baby Christian.
Matthew, who attends the University of Arizona and is looking to become an entertainment lawyer, shared with On Air With Ryan Seacrest that he only recently found out his story.
“I was in the car with my godmom and she was like, 'Has anyone ever told you the true story of how you were found?' And I was like, 'No' and she was like, 'Legend has it ...' and then she told me the story and I was just in awe and then I went home and did research and then I started telling everyone because I felt so cool that I survived the impossible.”
Azita, who broke down upon meeting Matt, said he’s exactly who she imagined.
“I was waiting for you. 20 years,” Azita said through tears while hugging Matthew. “You’re exactly what I’ve imagined. I guessed your size, everything. Thank you for coming into my life, you changed my life. … I knew we were going to connect again,” she added. “The day I met him he confirmed my faith … God brought us together for a purpose.”
Azita went on to explain that the day she found Matthew, she was supposed to have gone on the hike earlier, but a series of interruptions occurred that caused her to take a different hiking route for the first time in eight years, and ultimately lead her to Matthew.
“I was going to run 20 minutes and suddenly I felt like I was going to be sick, like someone was choking me or throwing up, and I think it was exactly 10 to 15 minutes before that they were [burying Matthew],” Azita recalled, adding that her dog was then acting strange over the area where she’d soon find Matthew was buried.
“I went there and heard a noise and … Tango [the dog] was standing exactly over his head and I was saying, ‘Come on, let’s go! What are you looking at?’ And they wouldn’t move and I’m screaming at them and it was a bunch of bushes and suddenly Christian’s feet came out of the ground in front of my feet and I didn’t know it was his feet … so I dragged my dogs to go to the car and put the dogs in the car and God told me you have to go back and I went back and I was standing far away and I’m screaming loud, ‘God what is this? What is this? It’s like a human baby’s feet’ And he started crying and I moved the bushes and I opened the towel and I saw the umbilical cord attached," Azita continued. "I didn’t even know if it was boy or a girl and he was crying and I brought him out and I dug my nails in his nose and mouth and started taking the dirt out and all I said to you, [Matthew], was ‘Please don’t die. I will never leave you. I love you.’"
Azita continued that she ran to her car to dial 911 and because they thought the baby was already dead, they didn't arrive until “30 minutes later,” but that baby Matthew never gave up.
“He was in my arm holding me,” she shared, recreating Matthew’s grasp. “He grabbed my wrist like this and he wouldn’t let go. … He was so strong. He was so strong-willed. We are both Tauruses — stubborn,” Azita joked. “Nobody can get rid of us!”
Matthew concluded that he couldn’t be more grateful for Azita and that she’ll be in his life forever, including receiving an invitation to attend his forthcoming graduation.
The day was extra special as it also just so happened to be Matt’s birthday and exactly 20 years from the date he was found.
Watch the videos above to witness the emotional moment and to hear more about Matthew and Azita’s miraculous story.