UK baby born with an extremely rare condition has fought and won three surgeries to place her heart inside her chest.

Baby, Vanellope Hope, was born in late November with her heart growing on the outside of her body, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester said.

The unusual condition is called ectopia cordis.

Vanellope Hope is believed to be the first baby in the UK to survive the rare condition through operations.

Her parents, Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins, found out about their daughter’s condition at their nine-week scan, The Guardian reports.

They were advised “termination” was their only option moving forward.

“I burst into tears,” Ms Findlay said of being told about her daughter’s chances for survival.

“When we did the research, we just couldn’t physically look because the condition came with so many problems.

Vanellope was born three weeks premature via caesarean section on November 22.

Her parents were told the first 10 minutes after her birth were the most crucial, because of breathing issues, but she came out screaming, the best possible sign.

Related: Baby undergoes world-first heart surgery in the WOMB


“When she came out and she came out crying, that was it,” Ms Findlay said.

“The relief fell out of me.”

Mr Wilkins said “20 minutes went by and she was still shouting her head off – it made us so joyful and teary”.

In the weeks following her birth doctors worked to open a space below her heart and and gravity slowly pulled it into its rightful place. She is now in the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit attached to a ventilation machine as her organs battle for space inside her chest.

Dr. Nick Moore said “she has a long way to go but so far at least she now has a chance at a future”.

*Some readers may find the below video distressing.

FACTS ABOUT CHD via Heartkids Au

  • Childhood heart disease is the biggest killer of Australian kids under one
  • Every day in Australia eight babies are born with a heart defect. That’s almost 3,000 each year.
  • Every week, four precious lives are lost.
  • There is no known cure or prevention. Once a Heartkid, always a Heartkid.
  • It’s estimated that 32,000 children (under 18 years of age) are currently living with CHD in Australia

You can read about my families journey HERE.

Late night TV host, Jimmy Kimmel, recently shared his heartbreaking news after learning his newborn son had a congenital heart defect – Read more on that HERE.

Share your comments below.

Image via The Guardian

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  • Wow what a amazing and brave little girl i hope her mum and dad are doing well to and that they know they have a amazing little fighiter


  • Thus gorgeous baby still has a long way to go as her heart wriggles it way into a very small space. Lets hope it fits and she lives a healthy life as much as possible.


  • What an amazing little girl, a true little fighter!


  • Such a happy outcome, I pray this little one has a wonderful life.


  • so amazing to state “that gravity pulled it into place!” amazing job to the doctors


  • I saw this on the news! She is so incredible!


  • An absolute miracle !!


  • The advances in medical treatment are just amazing!


  • Oh wow! How amazing – so pleased all is going well!


  • Oh! That is scary! I didn’t know it was possible. I’m so happy that the operations succeeded. She’s doing great. Wishing her all the best!!! :-)


  • Best wishes to this baby and her family.


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