Baby survives after being born with heart outside her body

Henrietta Brewer
December 15, 2017

She has ectopia cordis, a rare condition in which the heart is "abnormally located either partially or totally outside of the chest", according to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, where Vanellope was born and where she is being treated.

Vanellope is the first baby in the United Kingdom who survives being born with ectopia cordis.

In a medical feat that could be considered as one of the most unbelievable in the history of medical science, a baby was born with her heart outside her body and the doctors were successful in inserting the heart back into her body. Infection poses a severe risk to babies with this condition.

Meanwhile, Naomi Findlay, Vanellope's mother said she was not expecting her daughter to survive the surgery. The condition is still serious and still usually fatal, but Vanellope is far from the first to survive worldwide.

Vanellope's mother Naomi Findlay (right) said she had "prepared for the worst" before the surgery. "She cried at birth and coped well with the early stabilization and her heart continued to beat effectively", said Glenfield Consultant Neonatologist Jonathan Cusack. Fortunately, the team of 50 doctors did a great job, and now the three-week-old baby girl is resting and recovering in her house at Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. Over two weeks, her heart naturally made its way back into her chest as a result of gravity. This is something quite particular, not every child has the opportunity even to be born when it's suffering from the congenital condition called ectopia cordis.

Her heart is now covered, and while there is still the major risk of infection, the baby's chances that she will survive through the ordeal have vastly been improved. After the birth, she said, "I felt guilty for thinking negative thoughts because here she is fighting, and there there was I, about to give up".

In the last surgery, doctors took skin from Vanellope's arms and moved it into the middle of her body.

They named their daughter after a character in the film Wreck-it Ralph.

Vanellope's father, Dean Wilkins, told the BBC: "We were advised to have a termination and that the chances of survival were next to none - no-one believed she was going to make it except us".

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