Baby girl survives with heart growing outside body in Britain


That's because Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her chest. Moments after she was born, Wilkins's body was placed inside a sterile plastic bag to prevent bacterial contamination of her exposed heart, as well as to keep her organ from drying.

Within 50 minutes of birth, the baby was undergoing the first of three operations to put her heart back inside the body.

"I had brought an outfit to hospital that she could wear if she died", said Naomi Findlay, Vanellope's mother, in a statement on Tuesday. Most babies who survive surgery are at an increased risk of developing an infection.

But this picture of peace and tranquillity is a far cry from where Vanellope, and her loving parents, Naomi and Dean, of Nottinghamshire in the United Kingdom stood just weeks ago.

Naomi said: "Vanellope in the film is a real fighter and at the end turns into a princess so we thought it was fitting".

Vanellope Hope Wilkins looks like any other almost-one-month-old baby would: delightfully soft to touch, blushing pink in skin colour and sweetly squinting through her blue newborn eyes.

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Doctors at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, performed the surgeries. An "artificial" rib cage also made to protect her heart, due to her not having ribs.

After seven days, her chest was opened a bit more to create space to allow her heart to fit back in. Babies born with the condition have less than a ten-percent chance of survival.

Frances Bu'Lock, a consultant paediatric cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said she had described the chances of the baby surviving as remote.

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".

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