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Baby girl survives with heart growing outside body in Britain

14 December 2017

The 31-year-old mother of two explained her emotions to right after giving birth to Vanellope, saying: "I started to panic, I actually felt physically sick because I actually thought there was a big possibility I wouldn't be able to see her or hear her, or anything really".

Naomi told me: "It was a real shock when the ultrasound showed that her heart was outside her chest and scary because we didn't know what would happen".

Babies born with the condition generally have less than a 10 per cent chance of survival, depending on the risks of other conditions as well as the ability to place the baby's heart safely in the chest. "We had a little cry, didn't we?"

"I did a quick Google search, as everyone does, and then more of a literature search but that didn't inform me an bad lot because there's not much to go on and the cases are all very different".

"She's been lucky, if you like, in that she has a structurally normal heart, which most of these babies don't have and she didn't have any other abnormalities with the chromosomes".

Naomi Findlay, Vanellope's mother, said pre-natal scans and tests showed her daughter's heart and parts of her stomach growing outside her body.

Dean told me: "We were advised to have a termination and that the chances of survival were next to none - no-one believed she was going to make it except us".

Initially scheduled to be a Christmas baby, she was born prematurely a month ago, on November 22. The ectopic heart can be found along a spectrum of anatomical locations, including the neck, chest, or abdomen. She said: "When Naomi was 13 weeks pregnant I received a call about the potential complications that had been identified by a sonographer in Nottingham". She's believed to be the first baby ever in the United Kingdom to not to die from the debilitating condition, The Telegraph reported.

In June, Wilkins and Findlay learned they were expecting their first child, according to the statement from hospital.

"But when she came out and she came out crying, that was it".

Vanellope Hope Wilkins born
Vanellope was born with her heart located outside her chest. Glenfield Hospital University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Vanellope was wrapped in a plastic bag immediately after her birth.

Consultant Neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said: "Vanellope was born in good condition". During the stabilisation, we continually dripped warmed saline solution onto her heart to stop the tissues drying whilst she was under a warmer.

She has had three operations to put her heart back in her chest.

In the most recent surgery, Vanellope's own skin was used to cover the hole in her chest. It's still uncertain. She has a long way to go.

Dr Bu'lock said that Vanellope was not guaranteed to survive, and there was a lot of work still to do, but she was hopeful.

"I genuinely didn't think my baby would survive, but the staff at Glenfield have been awesome".

"We know this is going to be a rollercoaster and have started to prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead, but we needed to give her a chance, and the team here have done that".

As for the baby's unusual name, the couple revealed that she was named after a character from the Disney movie, Wreck it Ralph.

"Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a princess at the end so it was so fitting". I can't put in words how grateful I am for everything they have done.

Baby girl survives with heart growing outside body in Britain