Baby survives three surgeries to place heart back inside her chest

Ruben Ruiz
December 15, 2017

"Vanellope is the first baby to survive this operation in the United Kingdom".

Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born with the rare condition, ectopia cordis, and has no breastbone.

But the Nottinghamshire parents ignored the doctor's advice to terminate their daughter - originally due on Christmas Eve but born prematurely by caesarean on November 22.

Doctor's told the parents the first ten minutes of Vanellope's life on earth would be the most crucial.

Dean Wilkins said: "She defying everything - it's beyond a miracle".

"In a way her quality gave me a quality to continue onward", she included.

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".

"We made a decision to fight to give our daughter the best chance of surviving", Mr Wilkins said.

Babies born with ectopia cordis usually have a 1 in 10 chance of survival.

But the parent's perservered, not willing to take no for an answer.

Vanellope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her body
Image Vanellope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her body

"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", she said.

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

"It was decided that delivery by caesarean section would be best to reduce the risks of infection, risks of trauma or squashing of the heart during delivery, and that surgery to provide some sort of covering to the heart would be needed immediately after baby was delivered", Bu'Lock said.

The procedures worked - special lines were inserted into her umbilical cord to give fluid and medication to support her heart.

In the latest surgery, Vanellope's own skin was utilized to cover the opening in her chest.

Whilst Vanellope is doing well, her prognostic is still uncertain and she has a long way to go.

"I scanned Naomi at 16 weeks when her baby was a little bit bigger and by this time it seemed that the bowel was back where it should be, but that the heart was still beating away outside the front of baby's chest". While her organs fight for space in her chest, Vanellope is still hanging on, attached to a ventilation machine.

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

Naomi stated: "Vanellope in the film is a genuine contender and toward the end transforms into a princess so we thought it was fitting".

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