Texas Children's Hospital
A baby girl is making an incredible recovery after being born with her heart OUTSIDE her body.
Tiny Audrina Cardenas had a rare congenital disease where her heart formed outside the chest.
The condition - ectopia cordia, which occurs in six to eight of every 1 million babies - claims the lives of 90 per cent of the infants who suffer from it.
But little fighter Audrina underwent revolutionary surgery and it saved her life. Her mother found out about her daughter's life-threatening condition at a routine check-up at 16 weeks.
The baby's mum, Ashley, 25, said she was given three options, each of them difficult in their own right – abort the baby, carry her to term knowing she would die shortly thereafter, or have doctors construct a hole in her unborn baby's chest to make room for the heart.
She told the Houston Chronicle that her choice to have her newborn daughter operated on was incredibly difficult.
"You'll never know what it feels like to make that decision until you're faced with it," she said.
Audrina still has a battle ahead because she'll need more surgery in coming years to repair defects in her heart.
Doctors have to wait for Audrina to heal and gain strength before attempting any additional procedures.
She 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 statement: "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."