Baby born with heart outside her body

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HOUSTON, TX – There are times in life that try you the hardest – diagnosis that shake you to the core.

“It’s eight in a million,” new mother Ashley Cardenas says “and from what I was told, only one out of those eight survives longer than three days.”

“You don’t know how to react. You come with just nothing but tears and emotion. How could this happen? How does this happen to me? How does this happen to my baby?”

But sometimes a miracle happens.

“I am optimistic that she is actually going to have a long and healthy life,” says Dr. Carolyn Altman, pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Five-week-old Audrina Cardenas was born with her heart outside her body. It’s an extremely rare condition. Most babies born this way die within days. Audrina is an exception.

“She does have a couple of holes in her heart,” Dr. Altman explains. “Some obstructions within the heart that may need to be dealt with, but I feel like those are things that we expect her to be able to come through and be fine with.”

Audrina is the first baby born in the state of Texas to survive more than five weeks with this rare condition. After a six-hour operation at Texas Children’s Hospital to reconstruct her chest and put her heart back inside where it belongs, doctors believe this first may not be a last.

“We may have to think about things like protective coverings for her chest,” dr. Altman says. “we may need to think about what activities she can do, but our goal is to let her have as normal a life as possible and really I think she’s probably going to do just great.”

Proving that breakthroughs happen every day.

“A lot of my family, a lot of my friends, you know, we put prayer chains together,” Ashley says. “And… The power of prayer.”