Leicester, UK (BBN) – A baby girl, Vanellope Hope Wilkins, survived being born with her heart outside her body, in a first of its kind case reported in Britain.
The doctors revealed to Wilkins’ parents that she was suffering from ectopia cordis, in which heart and stomach grow externally, during a nine-week scan, reports The Guardian.
The parents, identified as 31-year-old Naomi Findlay, and 43-year-old Dean Wilkins, were told that “termination” was the only option.
Three weeks after her premature birth, Vanellope has survived three operations to move her heart inside her chest. The operations occurred at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.
The couple shared that first 10 minutes of Vanellope’s birth were crucial as they would determine her ability to breathe.
“But when she came out and she came out crying, that was it. The relief fell out of me,” said her mother.
Her father said: “Twenty minutes went by and she was still shouting her head off – it made us so joyful and teary.”
About five in eight million babies are born with this condition with a less than 10% chance of survival.
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 almost impossible to be confident of this.”