SEVERE WX : Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts

Baby survives after being born with heart outside her body

A baby born with her heart outside her body has survived surgery to insert it back into her chest.Vanellope Ho...

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 2:42 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 2:42 PM

A baby born with her heart outside her body has survived surgery to insert it back into her chest.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins, now three weeks old, was delivered by a team of 50 medical professionals at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, UK, on November 22.

Born with ectopia cordis, a rare congenital condition causing her heart to grow outside her body, the baby girl underwent three intensive surgeries to put her heart inside her chest. She is now on the road to recovery.

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

"I deal with babies with heart problems all the time, some of them very complicated," said Dr. Frances Bu'Lock, consultant in pediatric cardiology at Glenfield Hospital.

"This is only the second case in 30 years that I've seen this particular condition, it's extremely rare," said Bu'Lock.

Odds stacked against them

An initial ultrasound scan at nine weeks had alerted Vanellope's parents, Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, that their baby's heart and part of her stomach had begun to grow outside of her body.

Bu'Lock did Naomi's ultrasound at 16 weeks, and found that while Vanellope's bowel had moved back to the correct position, her heart was still out of place.

A blood test confirmed that the risk of other chromosomal abnormalities was low, at which point Naomi and Dean chose to fight for their daughter's life.

Bu'Lock did not expect the baby to survive, she said. "There were so many difficulties -- she might have other body organ problems. The chances against her surviving at that stage was huge."

In most cases, the malformation is detected in the womb and the pregnancy is terminated or results in a stillbirth. A successful delivery also brings a very high risk of infection or associated defects, according to the hospital.

Naomi and Dean received counseling throughout the process.

Surgeons deliver miracle

Four teams of doctors at Glenfield -- which is part of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) -- were scheduled to deliver the baby on November 22 by caesarean section to reduce the risk of infection as well as the risk of injuring the infant heart.

After birth, Vanellope was placed in a sterile plastic bag to reduce infection risk to her heart and keep exposed tissues moist.

"Vanellope was born in good condition. She cried at birth and coped well with the early stabilization and her heart continued to beat effectively," said Glenfield Consultant Neonatologist Jonathan Cusack.

""At around 50 minutes of age, it was felt that Vanellope was stable enough to be transferred back to the main theater where she had been born to the waiting anesthetists, congenital heart disease and pediatric surgical teams who began the task of putting her entire heart back inside her chest," he said.

While the defect in Vanellope's chest was small, the surgeons were concerned about repositioning the heart correctly to ensure it was properly attached to the veins and arteries.

"Now she's out, she's had three surgeries and her heart is covered -- I think her chances are a lot better," said Bu'Lock, who called the surgery "challenging (rather) than complicated."

"Cases of ectopia cordis are extremely rare but Vanellope's situation is even more unusual," said Dr. Martin Ward-Platt of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who was not involved in the procedure. "Usually babies like Vanellope are born with a number of other complications of the heart or other organs, but from the media reports it seems this could be the only abnormality -- which makes it even more rare."

Heart out of place

Ectopia cordis, literally translating to "out-of-place heart," is a heart abnormality that develops during the early stages of development in the womb.

The condition causes the heart to form either partially or wholly outside the chest cavity, generally on the neck, chest, abdomen or cervix.

It is generally accompanied by congenital heart disease and other associated defects, leaving those affected by it with a very low chance of survival.

The condition is estimated to affect just under eight babies per million live births, according to the hospital, with less than a 10% chance of survival.

"To put this in context, we wouldn't expect a case like this to happen in the UK more often than once every five to 10 years," said Ward-Platt.

New father Dean Wilkins said in a statement: "The moment she was born I realized that we had made the right decision. 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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 767409

Reported Deaths: 13980
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1054251805
Lake569191030
Allen42938698
St. Joseph37313568
Hamilton37298426
Elkhart29749470
Tippecanoe23479230
Vanderburgh23201405
Porter19573327
Johnson18822392
Hendricks18072321
Madison13548346
Clark13533198
Vigo12834256
LaPorte12566225
Monroe12546178
Delaware11143198
Howard10672237
Kosciusko9777124
Hancock8740150
Bartholomew8262157
Warrick8069157
Floyd8027182
Grant7366181
Wayne7233201
Boone7184105
Morgan6910143
Marshall6332116
Dubois6274118
Cass6090111
Dearborn601278
Noble599290
Henry5947111
Jackson516377
Shelby510898
Lawrence4922127
Gibson462696
Montgomery458192
Clinton455255
DeKalb455285
Harrison453577
Whitley415745
Huntington415582
Steuben410660
Miami405573
Jasper401155
Knox388391
Putnam385062
Wabash369083
Adams352956
Ripley351271
Jefferson341886
White339654
Daviess3090100
Wells303581
Greene293485
Decatur292593
Fayette286364
Posey281735
Scott280058
LaGrange277572
Clay273348
Washington254037
Randolph247783
Jennings239449
Spencer238731
Fountain235250
Starke229859
Owen222659
Sullivan221343
Fulton208345
Jay202932
Carroll197322
Orange191156
Perry189739
Vermillion180844
Rush177527
Tipton172747
Franklin171935
Parke155216
Pike141734
Blackford138032
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109715
Brown106043
Crawford105616
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8348
Union73610
Ohio58111
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1123964

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1304331493
Cuyahoga1172542263
Hamilton824421261
Montgomery535421062
Summit489021014
Lucas43747834
Butler40000614
Stark33837939
Lorain26029510
Warren24919312
Mahoning22710613
Lake21472396
Clermont20391261
Delaware19143138
Licking16863227
Trumbull16801492
Fairfield16793207
Medina15861276
Greene15528254
Clark14352308
Portage13432218
Wood13343201
Allen12049245
Richland11740213
Miami11019228
Wayne9258228
Columbiana9204236
Muskingum9133137
Pickaway8750123
Tuscarawas8718255
Marion8710140
Erie8135166
Ashtabula7281179
Hancock7048135
Ross7024165
Geauga6962153
Scioto6701108
Belmont6222179
Lawrence5947104
Union590949
Jefferson5725162
Huron5638122
Sandusky5488130
Darke5444131
Seneca5377128
Washington5371111
Athens526960
Auglaize507487
Mercer491185
Shelby482797
Knox4614113
Madison447566
Ashland444898
Defiance438799
Fulton436375
Putnam4354104
Crawford4114111
Brown409662
Preble3949107
Logan392179
Clinton390766
Ottawa375881
Highland366068
Williams356678
Champaign349660
Guernsey330554
Jackson321354
Perry298850
Morrow294743
Fayette289150
Hardin279365
Henry277167
Coshocton272961
Holmes2725102
Van Wert252265
Adams249858
Gallia249850
Pike244737
Wyandot235257
Hocking222963
Carroll201249
Paulding179942
Meigs151240
Monroe137945
Noble137739
Harrison115238
Morgan111624
Vinton87317
Unassigned04
Fort Wayne
Mostly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 74°
Angola
Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 75°
Huntington
Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 74°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
A complex system brings the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms to the region early Thursday morning.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events