‘Miracle Baby’ Born With Heart Outside Body Saved by UK Surgeons

A mother who refused to terminate her pregnancy is celebrating her “miracle baby” – believed to be the first in the UK to survive after being born with her heart outside her body according to The Telegraph.

Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, of Bulwell, Nottinghamshire, were warned that the extremely rare condition meant almost no chance of survival.

Vanellope was due to be delivered on Christmas Eve before the rare condition meant she had to be born prematurely by caesarean section on November 22 at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

The condition, ectopia cordis, which was discovered during a scan after nine weeks’ pregnancy, showed the baby’s heart and part of her stomach were growing on the outside of her body.

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The first scans led doctors to tell them that termination was the only option, the couple said.

Mr Wilkins, who works as a builder, said:

“We were told that our best bet was to terminate and my whole world just fell to bits.”

Ms Findley, a mother-of-two, said:

“All the way through it, it was ‘the chances of survival are next to none, the only option is to terminate, we can offer counselling’ and things like that.

“In the end I just said that termination is not an option for me, if it was to happen naturally then so be it.”

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Within an hour of being born, a team of around 50 staff assembled to carry out the first of three operations, over several weeks, to put her heart back fully inside her chest.

The series of procedures, with special lines inserted into her umbilical cord to give fluid and medication to support her heart, saw the chest gradually opened to create more space for the heart to fit back in.

After seven days, medics decided they could conduct the second operation, which was to open her chest a bit more so they could create more space for the heart to fit back in.

Over a period of around two weeks, the heart naturally made its way back into the chest following gravity.

This allowed staff to carry out the final operation which involved taking skin from under her arms and moving it round to join in the middle of her body.

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Surgeons had created a mesh which protected the heart as she did not have ribs or a sternum.

As her organs fight for space inside her chest, Vanellope is still attached to a ventilation machine.

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 almost impossible to be confident of this.”

The couple named their child after a character in the Disney film, Wreck It Ralph.

Ms Findlay said:

“Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a princess at the end so it was so fitting.”

 

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