Baby's heart placed back inside her chest in rare surgeries


But she was delivered by Cesarean Section on Wednesday, November 22, by a team of around 50 clinical staff at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. In the US, in recent years, there have been a few cases where babies have survived following surgery, including Audrina Cardenas who was born in Texas in 2012, and Kieran Veitz who was born in 2015. "I had prepared myself for the worst; that was my way of dealing with it".

Then, surgical teams began putting her entire heart back inside her chest.

Born with ectopia cordis, a rare congenital condition causing her heart to grow outside her body, the baby girl underwent three intensive surgeries to put her heart inside her chest.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins born
Vanellope was born with her heart located outside her chest. Glenfield Hospital University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Vanellope's parents, Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, said doctors had told them termination was their only option, with experts saying they had not seen a case in the United Kingdom where a baby had survived.

Dean Wilkins said: "She defying everything - it's beyond a miracle". She said: "When Naomi was 13 weeks pregnant I received a call about the potential complications that had been identified by a sonographer in Nottingham".

Dr Bu'Lock said Vanellope was given a "remote" chance of survival.

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"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. At that point we made a decision to fight to give our daughter the best chance of surviving". After birth, Vanellope was placed in a sterile plastic bag to reduce infection risk to her heart and keep exposed tissues moist.

"We had to assemble teams of obstetric doctors, neo-natal doctors, anaesthetists, cardiac surgeons, because they have expertise in this area - get them all up to the operating theatre in Glenfield and deliver Naomi, and... get baby Vanellope out; we had to deliver her early - and then start to think about getting the heart covered".

Consultant Neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said: "Vanellope was born in good condition".

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Vanellope was delivered by caesarean section on 22 November, with her heart outside her body and without a breastbone, the BBC reports. While the defect in Vanellope's chest was small, the surgeons were concerned about repositioning the heart correctly to ensure it was properly attached to the veins and arteries. Within an hour of being born, a team of 50 medical staff performed the first of three surgeries to put her heart back into her body. Probably less than one baby is born with this a year in the UK. Heart out of placeEctopia cordis, literally translating to "out-of-place heart", is a heart abnormality that develops during the early stages of development in the womb. Lines were inserted into her blood vessels and umbilical cord to provide her with medications and fluids to support her heart, as well as to monitor her blood pressure. The condition is estimated to affect just under eight babies per million live births, according to the hospital, with less than a 10% chance of survival.

On remembering how it felt to go into theatre that morning with Naomi, Dean said: "Both Naomi and I were holding our breath waiting to take her take her first breath; we didn't dare breathe until she took her first breath".

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