Warning: Some parts of the video below contain graphic images.
A baby born with her heart outside her body and survived surgery to insert it back into her chest is preparing to go home – for good.
Vanellope Hope Wilkins, now nine months old, was delivered by a team of 50 medical professionals at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, UK, on November 17, 2017.
She was born with ectopia cordis, a rare congenital condition that caused her heart to grow outside her body. She underwent multiple intensive surgeries to put her heart inside her chest.
“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 last year. “I genuinely didn’t think my baby would survive, but the staff at Glenfield have been amazing.”
Surgeons say they were concerned about repositioning her heart correctly, and had to properly attach it to the arteries and veins.
“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. Vanellope is the first baby to survive this operation in the UK.”
The condition, estimated to affect just under eight babies per million live births, is accompanied by congenital heart disease and other associated defects, leaving those affected by it with a very low chance of survival.
According to Inside Edition and BBC, baby Vanellope is transitioning to go home for good, by taking a series of short visits.
Her parents are learning to care for her with machines at their home.
It is unknown what exact day Vanellope will return home for good, but her family and doctors say she’s progressing well.