Audrina Cardenas’ doctors and her mother are saying it’s a ‘miracle’ that she survived a complicated surgery to reposition her heart into her chest after being born with it outside of her body. Hear more about her optimistic diagnosis!
Audrina Cardenas, 5 weeks, is recovering after doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston were able to successfully place her heart back into her chest during a 6-hour surgery. The infant, born with the rare congenital disease ectopia cordis, which causes the heart to grow outside the chest cavity, is expected to recover well.
Though extremely rare, ninety percent of infants with ectopia cordis are stillborn or die shortly after birth. Audrina’s case is a much happier one, as she survived long enough for her life-saving surgery.
Audrina’s mother, Ashley Cardenas, learned of her daughter’s condition when she was 15 weeks pregnant. All of the options she faced were equally tragic: she could abort the baby, carry her to full-term and facing the grim reality the baby wouldn’t survive for more than a few days, or have doctors surgically construct a hole in the unborn baby’s chest to make room for the heart. She eventually decided to have her newborn daughter operated on, perhaps the most difficult decision of all.
Audrina will need additional surgeries in the coming years to further reconstruct her heart, and she will need to see a cardiologist for the rest of her life, but doctors call her diagnosis “optimistic.” Her doctor says “although her future prognosis is uncertain, Audrina is currently thriving and making progress each day.” Such great news!
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– Kristine Hope Kowalski
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