Baby in UK Survives Rare Birth Disorder

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. wholly / ˈhoʊl li / (adv) – including the whole or entire amount of something

    The patient’s entire brain was wholly affected by the infection.

  2. stillborn / ˈstɪlˌbɔrn / (adj) – refers to an infant that is born dead

    My cousin was devastated because her child was stillborn.

  3. complication / ˌkɒm plɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n) – a problem or condition that happens as a result of another disease or illness

    Common complications from diabetes include eye and kidney damage.

  4. undergo / ˌʌn dərˈgoʊ / (v) – to go through or experience something

    My friend underwent surgery for her fracture.

  5. next to nothing / nɛkst tuˈnʌθ ɪŋ / (idiom) – very little

    Before vaccines, children’s chances of surviving measles were next to nothing.


Read the text below.

An infant born with her heart outside her chest has survived after a series of successful surgeries in the United Kingdom.

Vanellope / vænˈnɛl ə pi / Hope Wilkins miraculously lived after being born with a rare condition called ectopia cordis / ɛkˈtoʊ pi ə ˈkɔr dɪs /, an unusual birth disorder that causes the heart to grow partially or wholly outside the chest.

Records show that around 90% of babies born with the condition either come out stillborn or die soon after their birth. Meanwhile, those who survive are usually able to do so because they do not have any other complications.

Vanellope’s parents learned of their daughter’s rare condition before she was born. Her mother underwent an ultrasound scan, and doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy upon discovering the child’s condition. They warned that the baby’s chances of survival were next to nothing.

However, Vanellope’s parents decided to push through with pregnancy. They were hopeful because a series of tests revealed that, apart from her heart condition, their baby was healthy and had low risk of any other abnormalities.

On the day of her birth, Vanellope was successfully delivered by a team of 50 medical professionals. They used caesarian section to lessen the risk of infection to her heart.  Afterwards, Vanellope went through three intensive medical procedures to put her heart back inside her chest. The challenge in the procedure lies in the difficulty of placing the heart back in the chest among her other organs.

Now, through the success of the operations, Vanellope adds to the few babies known to have survived this rare condition. Two other documented survivors are from the United States, and both are currently doing well.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Despite the risks, what factors do you think contributed to the parents’ decision to push through with the pregnancy?
• Do you think success stories about babies with ectopia cordis influence the decision of parents with babies who have the same condition?

Discussion B

• How would you feel if you were among the doctors who had to handle Vanellope’s case?
• Would you also willingly take on a once-in-a-lifetime task even if it is very risky? Why or why not?
Category : Health