She is Audrina Cardenas. A miracle baby, she 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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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.
The happy youngster left the hospital with a pink external heart shield that she will wear for a few years 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 ever since she found out about her daughter’s life-threatening condition at a routine check-up when she was 16 weeks pregnant. She 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.
Audrina will need to see a cardiologist for the rest of her life, but doctors said 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.'