At only three-weeks-old Vanellope Hope Hopkins became the
first baby in the UK to survive an extremely rare heart condition called ectopia
The baby girl was born prematurely on 22 November with the life-threatening
condition where her heart and stomach were growing externally, according to The
Within an hour of her birth she underwent her first surgery.
She endured three surgeries to move her heart into her chest.
It was an extremely risky procedure as numerous experts,
including a cardiologist, said that they were unaware of other cases in which
an infant has survived this condition.
“I had seen one in fetal life around 20 years ago but that
pregnancy was ended,” said cardiologist, Frances Bu Lock.
“I did a quick Google search, as everyone does, and then
more of a literature search but that didn’t inform me an awful lot because
there’s not much to go on. And the cases are all very different.”
Vanellope’s parents, Naomi Findlay (31) and Dean Wilkins
(43) from Nottinghamshire were distraught when they were informed of her
chances of survival.
“I burst into tears. When we did the research, we just
couldn’t physically look because the condition came with so many problems,”
Fortunately, a team of 50 staff members were able to create
an artificial rib cage and sternum and moved their daughter’s heart into her
Findlay had prepared herself for Vanellope’s passing,
according to Newsweek.
“I’d prepared myself for the worst; that was my way of
dealing with it. I had brought an outfit to hospital that she could wear if she
died," Findlay said in a press release issued by the hospital. "I’m now confident she
won’t wear it so I’m going to donate it to the hospital. I genuinely didn’t
think my baby would survive.”
The hospital told BBC that Vanellope is doing
well and has proved very resilient. It added that she still has a long road
ahead, with infection being the greatest risk.
Her parents are overjoyed and believe that she’s a real
They aptly named their daughter after a character from the
film Wreck-It Ralph. “Vanellope in the film is so stubborn and she turns into a
princess at the end, so it was so fitting. The Hope part of her name is the
fact that she has brought us hope – and my mum and dad, because even they as
grandparents, thought they’d never get to see their granddaughter,” said