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Reaffirming her mother's faith that "there is a reason she is here," an Odessa, Texas, baby is doing well five weeks after being born with her heart partially outside her body, ABC affiliate KTRK reports.
Baby Audrina survived six hours of surgery to place the heart, which protruded from her stomach, back into her chest, according to the station.
"Our family has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving," Audrina's mother, Ashley Cardenas, told KHOU 11.
An ultrasound during the pregnancy revealed the usually fatal condition, called ectopia cordis, but Cardenas said she wanted to see the birth through. The odds were against her. According to Texas Children's Hospital, eight in 1 million babies are affected by ectopia cordis, and 90 percent are stillborn or die within three days.
"I had to come with ... believing in faith that there is a reason she is here," Cardenas told KTRK.
As soon as Cardenas made her decision, a team of cardiovascular, plastic and general surgeons readied for the complicated C-section procedure, Texas Children's Hospital chief surgeon Dr. Charles D. Fraser told KHOU 11. “Audrina is a true fighter and we are so excited that this was a good outcome.”
Last year, TBD reported on Ryan Marquiss, a boy who was born with ectopia cordis and had just one heart ventricle working. Ryan was almost 2 years old at the time of the report and was doing relatively well, but the news outlet noted he may require a heart transplant someday. His own doctor said the survival rate with his type of complications was nearly zero percent. “Ryan is one of a kind,” his mother, Leighann Marquiss, said in the article. “He's a miracle you know.”
Audrina has a long road ahead as well. Surgeons will eventually have to fashion a sternum (breastbone) out of a rib to protect her heart, the Houston Chronicle reports. In the meantime, she may leave the Houston hospital's ICU soon and eventually go home to be a "normal little baby," said Dr. Larry Hollier, another member of the surgery team.
"The pregnancy was given to me for a reason. She's here. She's made it this far," Cardenas, who's also the mother of 5-year-old twins, explained to KHOU 11. "That's my baby I would never give her back."