A baby girl who was born with her heart beating outside of her body has gone home today, after she was given a pink protective shell to protect her vital organ.
Audrina Cardenas was born in October with a rare congenital disease called ectopia cordis, where her heart formed outside the chest.
The disease affects only one in eight million and nine out of 10 sufferers are stillborn or die within three days.
But on Wednesday, the three-and-a-half-month-old defied the odds when she was discharged from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston and taken home by her mother Ashley.
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All smiles: Audrina Cardenas was allowed to leave Texas Children's Hospital on Wednesday after being fitted for a plastic casing to protect her heart
Matching: Mum Ashley seems intent on making Audrina a girly girl with her big pink bow and frilly socks to match the color of the casing
So happy: Ashley Cardenas, Audrina's mom, hugs one of the physical therapists as they leave the hospital
The happy youngster left the hospital with a pink external heart shield that she will wear moving forward to protect her heart as she grows. In a few years she will have surgery to place a more permanent protective shield inside her chest wall.
It is a relief for Audrina's mother who has had sleepless nights every since she found out about her daughter’s life-threatening condition at a routine check-up when she was 16 weeks pregnant.
Ms Cardenas was given three difficult options – abort the baby, carry her to term knowing she would die, or have doctors to construct a hole in her baby’s chest shortly after birth in an attempt to make room for the heart.
She said: 'After my doctors explained just how sick my baby was and what options I had, it didn't matter how scared I was, I knew I had to do anything possible to save my daughter's life.'
She was evaluated by Texas Children's Fetal Center a few weeks before she was scheduled for delivery. They gave her an ultrasound, foetal heart scan and foetal MRI and found that a third of the baby's heart was outside her body.
On the mend: Ms Cardenas talks to Dr Charles D. Fraser, Jr. about her daughter's protective shield
Miracle: Audrina Cardenas, who suffers from a rare congenital heart condition that caused her to be born with her heart outside of her body is recovering after surgery
Overjoyed: New mother Ashley Cardenas, center, looks at her daughter Audrina after the successful surgery
On October 15, Ms Cardenas gave birth via caesarian section the next day her daughter was whisked away for heart surgery.
Dr Larry Hollier, chief of plastic surgery at the hospital, said: 'Once the cardiac surgeons were finished operating on Audrina, the plastic surgery team played a pivotal role in completing this surgery as we were responsible for covering her heart beneath her skin and muscle.'
Five weeks later doctors declared the little girl was out of the woods and yesterday she was finally allowed home after they said she was 'doing very well.'
But the infant isn’t in the clear yet – surgeons said that she’ll need more surgeries in coming years to repair defects in her heart.
However, they must wait for Audrina to heal and gain strength before attempting any additional procedures.
Modern medicine: Doctors at Texas Children's were able to successfully place the newborn's heart back into her chest during a six-hour surgery
Discovery: The mother first found out about her daughter's potentially-deadly condition during a routine ultrasound at 16 weeks
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2267847/Miracle-baby-born-heart-outside-chest-released-hospital-help-protective-pink-casing.html#ixzz2J0QQFWOC
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