Warning: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing

A baby boy who was cut out of his mother after she died opened his eyes for the first time, offering a glimmer of hope for his devastated family.

The photo, which was taken last Sunday, shows the infant hooked up to tubes being cradled in the arms of his father, Yovany Lopez.

“It was a special treat to be able to witness that,” student pastor Cecilia Garcia, who took the photo, told CTVNews.ca.

Despite that moment of joy, the child’s prognosis remains bleak. Doctors have not seen any improvement in the boy’s condition, and he still has no brain activity.

But the family is holding onto hope.

“We’re hoping for a miracle,” Garcia said. “He came out of such violent, violent circumstances. We hope and pray that he makes it and he recovers.”

The baby’s mother, Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, was expected to give birth on May 5. She even posted a photo on social media of her baby bump with the due date and her unborn son’s full name: Yavani Yadiel Lopez.

But 11 days before she was due, Ochoa-Lopez was reported missing. Chicago police later found her body dumped in a garbage can outside a home. Investigators allege that the 19-year-old mother was lured to the home on a promise of free baby clothes from a woman she met on Facebook.

Police say the mother was then strangled to death, and her baby was cut out of her.

Clarisa Figueroa, who owns the home where Ochoa-Lopez’s body was found, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa have both been charged with first-degree murder.

Police allege that after killing Ochoa-Lopez, Figueroa brought the baby to the hospital and pretended it was hers. Prosecutors say her upper body and face were covered in blood, but she showed no physical signs of childbirth.

Subsequent DNA tests proved that the child did not belong to the woman. But the hospital did not immediately report the case. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is now asking the state’s child welfare agency to look into whether the hospital acted improperly.

A funeral is being held this weekend for Ochoa-Lopez. Her death has been heart-wrenching for the baby’s father, but he’s remaining strong, Garcia said.

“The love of your life was murdered, ripped away from you -- I can’t even imagine. He’s a strong kid. He’s really strong. He loves his children. The way he cuddles his baby, the way he talks to him, it’s so beautiful,” he said.

Lopez also has a three-year-old son, who was in the room to see his brother open his eyes for the first time. Family from Mexico also travelled to Chicago and witnessed the moment.

“The family is not giving up on him,” Garcia said.

A GoFundMe page has since been set up to help the family. In just three days, it has managed to raise more than US$39,000 of its US$50,000 goal.