Audriana Cardenas was born three months ago with one-third of her heart outside of her chest. Now, after extensive open-heart surgery and months of healing, doctors announced last Wednesday the baby was ready to go home.
The condition, called ectopia cordis, occurs an average of eight out of every one million births. What’s more, only 10 percent of babies born with it live past three days.
When she was informed of her baby’s condition 16 weeks into pregnancy, Ashley Cardenas was informed that she had three options: She could abort the pregnancy, give birth and withhold the risky surgery, or allow the surgery to take place.
Cardenas chose to have her daughter undergo the surgery, which in the end lasted six hours and required an array of specialists in cardiovascular surgery, plastic surgery and general pediatric surgery. Together, the surgeons successfully made room in the Audriana’s chest cavity to fully encompass her heart.
Now she wears a specially-made chest protector that moves as as her heart beats.
Dr. Charles D. Fraser is the surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital where the baby underwent surgery and is professor of surgery and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.
“We’re not definitive about her prognosis, but so far, so good,” Fraser told ABC.
Doctors are sure, however, that as Audriana grows she will require more surgery. A main priority for the future is creating a sternum bone, which doctors plan to do using a rib bone.
Ashley Cardenas is enjoying the moment, however, telling KHOU Wednesday that she was thrilled at the prospect of going home with her baby.
“I’m very excited, very anxious, nervous all at the same time that we’re able to home,” she said. “But it’s a very, very big step.”
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