Newborn with heart outside chest survives surgery

A baby born with a rare condition has survived three successful surgeries to put her heart back into her chest, which is believed to be a UK first.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND (REUTERS) - A newborn baby has survived three operations to put her heart into her chest.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her body and no breastbone - an extremely rare condition known as ectopia cordis.

She is believed to be the first baby in the UK to have survived the condition.

She was delivered prematurely by caesarean section three weeks ago.

In her first moments, doctors at the hospital in Leicester, England, protected her heart with sterile plastic.

Vanellope underwent surgery that day to put her heart back inside her body.

In a subsequent operation, her skin was used to cover the hole in her chest.

Glenfield hospital paediatric cardiologist Frances Bu'Lock said: "There may be strategies whereby we can put some internal bony protection in whether that's with 3D printing, either of something plastic or maybe even something organic that might grow with her."

Only eight babies in one million are born with ectopia cordis. The vast majority are stillborn or die within the first three days.

Several babies have survived the surgery in the United States, including Audrina Cardenas, who was born in Texas in 2012.