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Pennsylvania Boy Born With Heart Outside Of His Body — And Survives

Tue, February 21, 2012 5:32pm EDT by HL Intern Add first Comment
Ryan Marquiss Heart

Millions of babies are born with this condition, but for every million born only five to eight survive. This 3-year-old is one of the lucky survivors!

Ryan Marquiss, 3, was born with the condition known as ectopia cordis and a victim of hypoplastic right heart syndrome, a condition where only the left side of the heart properly develops. Ryan’s parents, Leighann, 34, and Henry Marquiss, 34, were told by doctors of their son’s condition during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Daily Mail. Knowing that his chances of survival were slim, they refused to even consider abortion. “We wanted to let nature take its course, so we refused to have the termination,” says Leighann on her son’s fate.

The doctor who helped the family throughout the ordeal, Dr. Mary Donofrio, director of the fetal heart program at the Children’s National Medical Centre, was always honest with Leighann and Henry. “I told the family right from the start that if he survived, it was a miracle,” she says.

Ryan is the only baby known to be born with both conditions. His heart was protruding out of his chest cavity, covered only by a thin layer of membrane.

“The doctors told us that no baby with Ryan’s combination of defects had ever survived, so the fact that he is here with us today is just amazing,” says Henry. “He really has astounded everyone.”

Ryan is the third child for the married couple, and his two older sisters have been supportive every step of the way. “He has done amazingly well,” Leighann says.  “He has been so brave throughout it, and his sisters have kept him going too. They have been to see him in hospital and made recordings of themselves at home, so Ryan could hear them.”

The miracle baby just celebrated his third birthday — he is progressing well now, but he might need to undergo a heart transplant later on in life. “He really is a medical miracle,” Leighann says. “When I look at him running around the playground and playing on the climbing wall, I praise God. Every day with Ryan is one we were told we wouldn’t have. So we cherish each moment.”

Hollymoms – If you would like to follow Ryan’s progress, you can do so at the family blog!

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