Baby Born With Heart Outside Her Body Is Saved by U.K. Surgeons

Baby Born With Heart Outside Her Body Is Saved by U.K. Surgeons

“In the end, I just said that termination is not an option for me,” she said. “If it was to happen naturally then so be it.”

Hospital officials in Leicester said the medical team knew that other physicians had tried to perform the same procedure at intervals of roughly two to three years, but none had been successful in Britain.

The baby was delivered by cesarean section on Nov. 22, about a month before her due date, the hospital said. She “was immediately wrapped in a sterile plastic bag” to keep her organs sterile and the tissue moist. A team of around 50 performed the procedure, the hospital said, including obstetricians, surgeons, anesthetists and midwives.

“At around 50 minutes of age, it was felt that Vanellope was stable enough” for the team to begin “the task of putting her entire heart back inside her chest,” the hospital quoted Dr. Jonathan Cusack, a consultant neonatologist, as saying.

Dr. Frances Bu’Lock, a consultant in fetal cardiology, told the BBC that the procedure to save the child was “touch and go.”

The baby was born without a breast bone, Dr. Bu’Lock said, and physicians are planning to create some form of artificial sternum at a later stage. After three operations, the infant’s heart, which had protruded through a hole in her chest, is now in her body and covered by her own skin.

The baby was named Vanellope Hope Wilkins. The name was taken from a character called Vanellope von Schweetz in the animated film “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Explaining the name, Ms. Findlay told The Leicester Mercury: “Vanellope in the film is so stubborn, and she turns into a princess at the end, so it was so fitting. The Hope part is the fact that it has brought us hope.”

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