Vanellope Hope Wilkins, who was born three weeks ago with her heart outside her chest, has defied all the odds and is still alive.
Doctors thought that it was almost impossible for the baby to survive, but her parents decided that Vanellope Hope at least needed a chance.
The Baby Born With Her Heart Outside Her Body
Vanellope Hope was supposed to be born on Christmas Eve to her parents Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins. However, a scan while she was nine weeks old revealed that her heart was growing outside her body, in a rare and often fatal condition known as Ectopia cordis. Doctors advised the expecting parents that their unborn daughter had "next to zero" chances of surviving, with a recommendation for abortion.
It was also thought that Vanellope Hope would also have other chromosomal abnormalities, as Ectopia cordis is often accompanied by other such defects. However, a special blood test revealed that there was a low risk for the baby for these abnormalities, making the case even more rare. At that point, Naomi and Dean decided that they would fight to give their daughter the best chance to survive.
However, Vanellope Hope's chances of survival were very slim. Naomi said that she even brought an outfit to the hospital that the baby would wear in case she did not make it.
Baby Vanellope Hope's Chance For Survival Improves
On Nov. 22, a team of about 50 clinical staff at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester delivered baby Vanellope Hope through a caesarean section, looking to reduce the risk of infection and injuring her heart.
Since then, Vanellope Hope has had three surgeries. The first surgery happened after just 50 minutes of being born after she was found to be stable enough, and it was the first step in a long journey for the baby's survival. Two other surgeries have since been done on Vanellope Hope.
"This is only the second case in 30 years that I've seen this particular condition, it's extremely rare," said Dr. Frances Bu'Lock, a pediatric cardiology consultant at Glenfield Hospital. "Vanellope is the first baby to survive this operation in the UK."