A baby born with her heart outside of her body has survived a series of three risky operations.
Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born on Nov. 22 with no breast bone. She was delivered by caesarean section in Leicester, England, after her parents discovered she was suffering from the rare condition called ectopia cordis, BBC reports.
Vanellope’s parents, Naomi Findlay, 31, and Dean Wilkins, 41, said they were initially scared over their daughter’s diagnosis.
“It was a real shock when the ultrasound showed that her heart was outside her chest and scary because we didn’t know what would happen,” Findlay said.
Wilkins said when the condition was discovered, doctors advised the couple to terminate the pregnancy. The couple decided against it, as a blood test showed there were no chromosomal abnormalities.
“We were advised to have a termination and that the chances of survival were next to none – no one believed she was going to make it except us,” he said.
Findlay added she couldn’t abort her pregnancy in good conscience.
“To see, even at nine weeks, a heartbeat – no matter where it was. It was not something I was going to take away.” she said. “In a way her strength gave me a strength to keep going.”
Vanellope was delivered nearly a month early in an effort for doctors to mitigate the risk of her of infection and damage to the heart.
Less than an hour later, she was taken into her first surgery.