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A team of 50 medics helped a new born baby survive against the odds as she was born with her heart outside her chest.
Vanellope Hope Wilkins was due to be born on Christmas Eve, but due to the condition, ectopia cordis, she had to be delivered, by caesarean, on the 22nd November at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. Her parents were advised that termination was the only option, as experts had not seen a case where a baby in the UK had survived.
A large team had to be assembled with a range of professionals having to work out the logistics of delivering the baby as early as possible and getting the heart covered.
Consultant neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said: “At around 50 minutes of age, it was felt that Vanellope was stable enough to be transferred back to the main theatre where she had been born, to the waiting anaesthetists, congenital heart disease and paediatric surgical teams, who began the task of putting her entire heart back inside her chest.”
It took four hours to move the majority of her heart back into her body before she was moved into an intensive care unit, where they monitored her progress.
A week later, the doctors operated again, creating extra space for the heart to be within side her body.
Over a period of two weeks, her heart naturally made its way into her chest as it was pulled down by the powers of gravity.
The surgeons then created a skin to protect the heart, taking skin from under her arms and moved it round to join the middle of her body.
Vanellope still does not have a chest bone and ribs. Suggestions have been made that a new sternum may be created by 3D printing which just shows how technology advancements can help in a number of ways.
We wish Vanellope and her family a Merry Christmas from us all at Banana Crumble and we hope her health continues to improve in 2018.