Baby Audrina was born with 1/3 of her heart outside her chest, a rare condition called ectopia cordis, which only affects eight out of 1 million babies. With ectopia cordis, the heart remains completely unprotected by the skin or sternum, and 90 percent of babies born with the condition are stillborn or die within the first three days of life. Though Audrina’s prognosis was bleak, her parents entrusted the surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital to operate.
Chief of plastic surgery of Texas Children’s Hospital Dr. Larry Hollier says the goal of Audrina’s surgery was to get the heart as far back in her chest as he could. While the 6-hour operation was successful, Audrina wears a pink harness around her torso, which acts as a sternum to protect her heart.
“In the next year or two, as the chest grows, it will grow more room to accommodate her heart and we can reconstruct a sternum,” Dr. Hollier says.
Dr. Hollier confirms that Audrina’s heart functions normally and her prognosis is excellent.