Miracle baby born with heart outside body due to extremely rare condition


Vanellope Hope Wilkins, who has no breastbone, was delivered by Caesarean section three weeks ago, reports the BBC.

Since her birth in late November, Wilkins has had three surgeries to put her heart back in her chest.

Due to the extremely low survivability of the condition, her parents, Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, were advised that "termination" was the only option.

It took around four hours to move her heart partially back into her body before she was transferred into an intensive care unit, where they monitored her progress.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins might be the first in the United Kingdom to survive after being born with her heart outside of her body.

Frances Bu'Lock, consultant paediatric cardiologist said: "Before she was born things looked very bleak but now they are quite a lot better - Vanellope is doing really well and has proved very resilient". Less than five percent of babies born with the most common type of ectopia cordis survive for more than a month.

Senior member included: "We were encouraged to have an end and that the odds of survival were alongside none - nobody trusted she would make it aside from us".

The first stage was just making sure she survived the birth and a team of around 50 worked on the separate complex procedures.

In the USA, there are few examples where babies with this condition have survived.

According to the Independent, consultant neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said: "At around 50 minutes of age, it was felt that Vanellope was stable enough to be transferred back to the main theatre where she had been born to the waiting anaesthetists, congenital heart disease and paediatric surgical teams who began the task of putting her entire heart back inside her chest".

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'But when she came out and she came out crying that was it - the relief fell out of me'.

It seems that she is truly a survivor just like little Vanellope.

Mr Wilkins said: 'When she cried, we cried.

Immediately after Vanellope was born, she was "immediately placed in a sterile plastic bag" to keep her organs sterile and tissues moist. She was then anaesthetised and given an operation to give fluids and support her heart.

East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre lead surgeon Branko Mimic was, however, pragmatic about the birth, saying that her case is very rare because everything else appears normal. Surgeons have also created a mesh to protect her heart as she did not have ribs or a sternum.

As for the baby's unusual name, the couple revealed that she was named after a character from the Disney movie, Wreck it Ralph.

Naomi said: 'Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a princess at the end, so it was so fitting'.

"I had prepared myself for the worst; that was my way of dealing with it". "I'm now confident she won't wear it so I'm going to donate it to the hospital".

"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".