Baby Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born with her heart outside he body in UK. She was diagnosed with the condition ectopia cordis after a nine week pregnancy scan showed her heart and part of her stomach had developed on the outside of her body.
Vanellope was due to be delivered on Christmas Eve but was born by caesarean on 22 November and life-saving surgery began within the hour. Her father, Dean, said the couple were told the first 10 minutes after birth were crucial.He said: “What they said is, when the baby is born she has got to be able to breathe in our oxygen. Twenty minutes went by and she was still shouting her head off — it made us so joyful and teary.”
She needed surgery within an hour of being born to correct a rare condition that caused her heart to grow outside her body. She survived in what is said to be UK’s first surgery.
Surgeons at Glenfield Hospital, a specialist children’s heart centre in Leicester, initially believed Vanellope would be impossible to save.They recommended a termination to her parents as the chances of survival were so low, less than 10%, but Vanellope’s mother, Naomi Findlay, said “this wasn’t an option” for her.
Frances Bu’Lock, the consultant paediatric cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said Vanellope’s chance of survival looked “remote”. “I had seen one in foetal life around 20 years ago but that pregnancy was ended,” she said.
However, after three surgeries, to move her heart into her chest and create an artificial rib cage and sternum, she is now believed to be the first successfully treated case of ectopia cordis in the UK.
Her doctors say so far Vanellope’s health appears to be normal outside of her heart condition, but it is impossible to say for certain. June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said Vanellope’s future health would now depend on her ongoing treatment.