Doctors at the Leicester Glenfield Hospital have carried out a pioneering operation on a three week old baby who was born with her heart outside of her body.
Vanellope Hope Wilkins is thought to be one of the first baby’s in England to have survived such a procedure. She has already had three operations to place her heart back inside her chest.
Her parents, Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, had been told at earlier ultra scans that their baby’s heart was growing on the outside of her and that she wasn’t going to survive.
Naomi delivered Vanellope by Caesarian operation and doctors could immediately see how strong her heart was pumping.
She was immediately prepared for surgery with her chest being covered with a sterile bag to preserve it and keep it away from infections.
Her parents say: “The moment she was born, they knew she was a fighter”.
Vanellope’s condition, known as ectopia cordis, affects only a few babies per million births, most of which are stillborn. Glenfield Hospital said she was the first known survivor in the UK.
Three weeks on from the operation, Vanellope is said to be doing well with her heart placed back in her chest. Doctors have said she has a long way to go with more surgery needed, but is showing true resilience.
This incredible operation comes just weeks after the heart unit was saved from closure. Vanellope’s parents have thanked the surgeons and their team at the Glenfield Hospital and say they would have been in panic mode, not knowing what to do if the centre had closed.
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