Baby survives after born with heart growing outside her body

Vanellope needed three operations to place her heart abcak inside her body

Vanellope Hope Wilkins was diagnosed with ectopic cordis after a nine-week scan at Nottingham City Hospital revealed her heart and part of her stomach had grown outside her torso. If [death] was to happen naturally, then so be it'.

Hospital officials in Leicester said the medical team knew that other physicians had tried to perform the same procedure at intervals of roughly two to three years, but none had been successful in Britain. Moments after she was born, Wilkins's body was placed inside a sterile plastic bag to prevent bacterial contamination of her exposed heart, as well as to keep her organ from drying.

She met the 50 doctors, midwives and nurses who were split into four teams to deliver the baby, keep the mother safe and carry out the complex heart surgery.

A baby girl born with her heart outside her body is believed to be the first in the United Kingdom to survive with the extremely rare condition after undergoing three operations, the first within an hour of her birth.

Dr Bu'Lock said: 'We came together as a team of fetal medicine doctors, obstetricians, anaesthetists, cardiac and abdominal surgeons and cardiologists to review all of the available information and discuss how best to plan for a delivery, surgery and subsequent care.

East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre lead surgeon Branko Mimic said: "Cases such as Vanellope's, where everything else appears essentially normal, are even rarer, and whilst therefore it would seem more hopeful she will do well, it is therefore nearly impossible to be confident of this". "We know this is going to be a roller coaster and have started to prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead, but we needed to give her a chance, and the team here have done that", Wilkins said.

Special lines were made to insert into her umbilical cord to give fluid and medication to support her heart.

It took two more weeks for her heart, under gravity, to sink back into her chest, allowing for the third surgery, which was to take skin from under her arms and to wrap it over her chest cavity. Surgeons had created a mesh that protected her heart as she did not have ribs or a sternum.

Vanellope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her body
Image Vanellope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her body

Expressing his happiness, her father Dean said, "She is doing really well". "The chances of survival were next to none - no-one believed she was going to make it except us", Wilkins said.

Experts as well as the consultant cardiologist have claimed to not know of a single case other than Vanellope's where the patient has survived ectopia cordis - which is a congenital malformation, even though previous estimates show that five to eight babies per million are born with this condition.

'We know this is going to be a rollercoaster and have started to prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead, but we needed to give her a chance, and the team here have done that.

Full-time mother Miss Findlay added: 'I'm glad I stuck to my guns not to terminate.

"I genuinely didn't think my baby would survive, but the staff at Glenfield have been unbelievable. I felt hopeless and just held onto Naomi and was staring into her eyes praying that it was all going to be ok".

The couple said they named the baby after a character in the Disney film, Wreck It Ralph.

Findlay said: "I had prepared myself for the worst; that was my way of dealing with it". "When the results of that test came back as low risk of any abnormalities we jumped up and down in the living room and cried", Wilkins said in the statement from the hospital.

Wilkins said: "I lost hope a few times, if she didn't move I'd say: "Has she moved today?' and then, the next thing, she'd suddenly move and you'd go: 'Oh she's heard me".

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