An infant born in Leicester, England, wasn’t expected to survive long after birth. That’s because Vanellope Hope Wilkins was born with her heart outside her chest.
Wilkins had a condition called ectopia cordis, which occurs when an infant is born with their heart either partially or wholly outside of their chest. The survival rate for babies born with the condition is less than 10 percent.
Although Wilkins’ parents were told to expect the worst, they decided to be optimistic about their chances.
“No one believed she was going to make it except us,” father Dean Wilkins said.
The hospital was prepared for the baby’s arrival in late November. Moments after she was born, Wilkins’ body was placed inside a sterile plastic bag to prevent bacterial contamination of her exposed heart, as well as to keep her organ from drying.
Incredible photos show baby girl born with her heart outside her body https://t.co/oCLF7Je87k— The Independent (@Independent) December 13, 2017
This 'miracle baby' was born with her heart outside of her chest.— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) December 13, 2017
Vanellope Hope Wilkins is the first baby in the UK to survive her rare condition. pic.twitter.com/nXi4r1hGnj
Within one hour of birth, Wilkins entered the first of what would be three surgeries, which involved 50 hospital staff to put her heart back into her body, TIME reports.
Ectopia cordis is a very rare condition with a very low survival rate — so much so that Wilkins is believed to be the first child to survive the diagnosis in the United Kingdom, hospital staff surmised.
For many people, the child's survival serves as a reminder to those in difficult circumstances to always keep hope. When things look their bleakest, when it seems like the odds are stacked against you, it can be hard to keep optimistic thoughts in your mind. But miracles can happen, and one family in England is living proof of that today.