Baby With Heart Beating Outside Body Survives Surgery

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A Florida woman's baby who was born with his heart outside his chest has survived a successful, life-saving surgery.

For 33-year-old expectant mother Michelle Hasni, it all started with her unborn child's bad case of hiccups that wouldn't go away.

"It was constantly," Hasni said. "It was every day."

Her doctor ordered an immediate ultrasound, which revealed extraordinary images of the baby's heart beating outside of his body.

The diagnosis was ectopia cordis, a rare defect affecting about seven in a million babies.

Few babies survive surgery for the condition, so preparation for the baby's arrival was crucial. A team of doctors from University of Miami/Jackson Medical Center designed an intricate plan for a mid-November delivery.

But the baby, Naseem Hasni, had other ideas, arriving two weeks early. The medical team was ready immediately, operating for more than six hours on the newborn's heart.

"It's a matter of just coaxing it back in using graft material and also mobilizing the skin in the chest wall so you can bring it to cover the heart," Dr. Eliot Rosencrantz said.

Though doctors are cautiously optimistic, the baby seems to be beating the odds and is gaining strength every day.

"He's doing good. He was awake when I went up to go see him," Hasni told "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" on Sunday morning.

On the day of the ultrasound that revealed the condition, Hasni said she didn't initially understand what was happening.

"I was watching the ultrasound with the technician and he asked me if I had any heart problems in the family. … I was like, 'No, why?'" she said. "It was really disturbing. … He couldn't say anything and he just asked that question and he got his tapes together and talked to the doctor."

Rosencrantz said that although the problem is rare, the team had the advantage of being prepared.

It's hard to say if the condition would have been discovered without the baby's hiccups in the womb to signal there was a problem.

"Ultrasounds are very common," Rosenkrantz said. "I'm very happy he did decide to hiccup. It was a very fortuitous thing."

One challenge the team faced was fitting the heart back inside the baby's chest.

"That's the challenge," Rosenkrantz said. "Unfortunately when the heart develops outside like this, there isn't a lot of space. … It took a little coaxing, to say the least."

Hasni calls her third child a Thanksgiving miracle, and hopes he'll be able to come home for Christmas.

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