Expectant parents Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins were given traumatic news during a nine-week ultrasound — their unborn child had something wrong with her heart.
The couple learned that part of the baby’s stomach and heart were growing outside of her body, according to CNN. Several weeks later, during a 16-week ultrasound, images showed that the baby’s bowel had moved back into place but that the heart was still outside.
Dr. Frances Bu’Lock, a consultant in pediatric cardiology at Glenfield Hospital, explained that the baby girl’s chances of survival were slim. He said:
“There were so many difficulties — she might have other body organ problems. The chances against her surviving at that stage was huge.”
Findlay knew the chances of saving her daughter were slim. She said in a statement:
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.
Nevertheless, a team of 50 medical professionals at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, U.K., was ready to deliver the baby on November 22.
Named Vanellope Hope, the baby was born with a rare congenital condition called ectopia cordis, which translates to “out-of-place heart.”
The rare condition occurs in fewer than eight babies per million live births. It develops in the early stages of pregnancy in the womb. The survival rate is less than 10 percent, according to the hospital.
Bu’Lock said of the condition:
“I deal with babies with heart problems all the time, some of them very complicated. This is only the second case in 30 years that I’ve seen this particular condition, it’s extremely rare.”
In fact, many who learn that their baby has the rare condition choose to terminate the pregnancy; other pregnancies end in stillbirth. Even so, Findlay and Wilkins did not give up on their unborn child.
Glenfield Consultant Neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said of Vanellope’s birth:
“Vanellope was born in good condition. She cried at birth and coped well with the early stabilization and her heart continued to beat effectively.”
Still, she needed to have surgery to put her heart back inside her chest, so following her birth, she was put into a sterile plastic bag to reduce the risk of infection and to keep exposed tissues moist prior to the surgery.
Vanellope survived the surgery and now has the beating heart back inside her body. Her grateful mother said:
I genuinely didn’t think my baby would survive, but the staff at Glenfield have been amazing.
Vanellope is 3 weeks old now and recovering from three life-saving surgeries.
See the full report below: