A baby born with a rare congenital condition is now on the road to recovery after three intensive surgeries to put her heart inside her chest.
The baby was born with ectopia cordis, an extremely rare condition that causes the heart to grow outside of the body. Delivered by a team of 50 medical professionals at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, Vanellope Hope Wilkins is now three weeks old. According to Dr. Frances Bu'Lock, a paediatric cardiology consultant at the hospital, Vanellope is the first baby to survive the operation in the United Kingdom. "I deal with babies with heart problems all the time, some of them very complicated," she told CNN.
Her condition was discovered during an ultrasound scan nine weeks into the pregnancy. "I had prepared myself for the worst; that was my way of dealing with it. I had brought an outfit to hospital that she could wear if she died," said Naomi Findlay, Vanellope's mother, in a statement. "I genuinely didn't think my baby would survive, but the staff at Glenfield have been amazing."
50 minutes after being born, she underwent her first of three cardiac surgeries. According to Dr. Martin Ward-Platt of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Vanellope's condition was even more unusual than the already uncommon condition in that she had no other complications with her heart or other organs.
"The moment she was born I realised that we had made the right decision," said Vanellope's father, Dean Wilkins, in a statement. "People always knock the NHS, but all we have seen from the team at Glenfield is kindness and a desire to keep Naomi and Vanellope safe and I can't begin to thank them for what they have done for my girls."