Nottingham

Baby born with heart outside body is home in Bulwell

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Media captionVanellope Hope Wilkins was born with no breastbone in November 2017

A baby who was born with her heart outside her body has been fully discharged from hospital 14 months after she was born.

Vanellope Hope Wilkins, who was born with no breastbone, was delivered at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on 22 November 2017 by Caesarean section.

She had three operations to place her heart back in her chest.

Vanellope has now left Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre, which she was moved to in May to be nearer home.

She has had a few trips home overnight but now will now be there permanently.

Image caption Vanellope Hope Wilkins is now home with her parents and three brothers

Her mother Naomi Findlay, from Bulwell, Nottingham, said it was "absolutely amazing" and "a massive relief" to have Vanellope home.

"It's exciting but it's daunting at the same time," she added.

"It has been an incredibly long, emotional journey."

Vanellope requires 24-hour care and is reliant on a ventilator.

Image caption Vanellope's heart is now covered with her own skin after three operations

Her parents - who said they will get married next year - are taking over much of her care, although they will have help overnight.

Ms Findlay said it was "not quite over yet" but it was a chance for them to be a normal family.

Vanellope's father Dean Wilkins said: "There is still a lot she has to undergo yet but she is home and that's the first step."

Frances Bu'Lock, part of the team caring for Vanellope, said the baby would "need something in the longer term" to give structure to her chest and make her condition more stable.

"Like with all of her care we don't exactly know what's going to happen, because nobody's ever done it before, so we're going to have to keep an eye on things," she added.

Image caption Staff at Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre have been caring for Vanellope since May

The condition, ectopia cordis, is extremely rare with only a few cases per million births, of which most are stillborn.

When Vanellope's rare condition was first diagnosed in pregnancy her parents were told she had less than a one in 10 chance of surviving.

However, the experts at the children's heart surgery unit at Glenfield Hospital defeated those odds.

Glenfield Hospital said it knew of no other case in the UK where the baby had survived.

Image copyright Glenfield hospital
Image caption Minutes after her birth, Vanellope's chest was covered with a sterile bag to keep her heart moist and reduce the risk of infection

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