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Dad of baby born with heart outside of body says, ‘We needed to give her a chance’

A baby born with her heart outside her body last month had less than a 10% chance of survival, and she's beat the odds. 

Vanellope Hope was supposed to be born Christmas Eve, but a rare heart condition formed during pregnancy prompted doctors to deliver her on Nov. 22. 

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Fewer than 16 weeks into the pregnancy, parents Naomi Findlay and Dean Wilkins of Nottingham in central England found out their baby girl had ectopia cordis, a serious condition where the heart develops either partially or totally outside the chest. They went through counseling to understand the risks and decided to go forward with the pregnancy.

“I had prepared myself for the worst ... I had brought an outfit to (the) hospital that she could wear if she died," Findlay said in a statement.

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About 50 clinical staffers at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester worked to bring Vanellope into the world, according to a release

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After Vanellope was born by Caesarian section (and cried!), she was wrapped in a sterile plastic bag, quickly shown to her parents and then rushed into an anaesthetic room, where she received a breathing tube and saline solution dripped on her heart.

Then, surgical teams began putting her entire heart back inside her chest. It's taken three operations, but Vanellope's heart is now beating inside her body now, according to the Leicester Mercury , which calls the procedures a "UK first."

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Vanellope's future is uncertain, but consultant neonatologist Jonathan Cusack said aside from the heart defect, she was born "in good condition."

Her parents said they knew they made the right decision the moment their daughter was born. 

"We know this is going to be a rollercoaster and have started to prepare ourselves for the difficult times ahead, but we needed to give her a chance," Wilkins said in a statement.

Findlay said she's confident her daughter won't need that outfit she brought to the hospital. She plans to donate it. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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