Baby Born with Heart Outside of Body (Ectopia Cordis) Makes History

Audrina Cardenas was born in October 2012 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.

The mother, Ms. Cardenas, was given three difficult options – abort the baby, carry her to term knowing she would die, or have doctors construct a hole in her baby’s chest shortly after birth in an attempt to make room for the heart.

Cardenas decided to carry on with the pregnancy despite low chances of Audrina's survival.

"As soon as I made my decision to continue with the pregnancy, the physicians in Midland referred me to Texas Children's Hospital where a team of miracle workers provided the specialized treatment and care my baby and I both needed," she said.

Dr. Charles Fraser, one of the nation's preeminent pediatric heart surgeons, has performed numerous complicated surgeries throughout his time at Texas Children Hospital. 3D Print Texas was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to provide 3D-printed model for Audrina’s heart.

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 was finally allowed home after they said she was 'doing very well.'

Audrina will need to see a cardiologist for the rest of her life, but doctors say the prognosis is good.

Dr. Carolyn Altman, a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital, said in a release: 'Despite Audrina's misplaced heart, she was born with no other syndromes or genetic conditions that would cause additional stress or complications on her heart.

'Although her future prognosis is uncertain, Audrina is currently thriving and making progress each day.'

Fraser, widely regarded as an heir to legendary Houston heart surgeons Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley, is leaving "to pursue new professional opportunities," according to a hospital news release.

3D Print Texas would like to wish Dr. Fraser much success in the next chapter of his life.

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