UK: Miracle baby born with heart outside body survives after three surgeries

Ignored advice Parents Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins are overjoyed

Vanellope had been due on Christmas eve but was delivered by Caesarean section on 22 November in order to reduce the chances of infection and damage to the heart.

"I deal with babies with heart problems all the time, some of them very complicated", said Dr. Frances Bu'Lock, consultant in pediatric cardiology at Glenfield Hospital.

She said: "I had seen one in foetal life around 20 years ago but that pregnancy was ended".

"I did a quick Google search, as everyone does, and then more of a literature search but that didn't inform me an terrible lot because there's not much to go on and the cases are all very different".

The hospital says it knows of no other case in the United Kingdom where the baby has survived.

Her parents said they knew they made the right decision the moment their daughter was born.

Since Vanellope was born, she has been under intensive medical care, so it has been hard for Ms Findley and her partner Dean Wilkins, from Bulwell in Nottinghamshire, to do what the parents of other newborns would do.

The condition where the heart is located outside the chest is called "ectopia cordis". "I felt hopeless and just held onto Naomi and was staring into her eyes praying that it was all going to be ok... twenty minutes went by and she was still shouting her head off - it made us so joyful and teary".

"The couple named Vanellope after a character in the Disney film 'Wreck-It Ralph".

Speaking of when she first found out about the condition, mother-of-two Naomi said: "I burst into tears".

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She has already had three operations to place her heart back in her chest, but has a long way to go. As soon as she was delivered, they worked quickly to get the heart covered.

"The prognosis depends on the severity of the condition and if there are other abnormalities, but treatment needs to begin immediately after birth".

Baby Vanellope is doing well, but her prognosis is uncertain.

A team of around 50 staff got together from around 8am with specialised equipment, before a theatre briefing at 8.30am.

Audrina was given a defensive plastic shield to cover her chest.

She had her first surgery on the day she was born to put her heart back inside her body.

"Later on we might have the capacity to put in some inward hard security for her heart - maybe utilizing 3D printing or something natural that would develop with her". Sometimes the bowel is outside the body as well, she's not had any of those problems. Surgeons had created a mesh that protected her heart as she did not have ribs or a sternum.

The surgeries conducted proved to be successful but little Vanellope is still attached to a Ventilator.

Branko Mimic, the lead surgeon at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, said: "Cases such as Vanellope's, where everything else appears essentially normal, are even rarer, and whilst it would seem more hopeful she will do well, it is therefore nearly impossible to be confident of this".

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