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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Baby born with heart outside body
Charli Southern
Charli needed major surgery
Charli Southern has defied the odds by surviving despite being born with her heart outside her chest, it is reported.

She was born seven weeks premature with a very rare condition called ectopia cordis where the chest fails to close properly over part of the heart.

Doctors rated Charli's chances of survival at two million to one, but so far she has confounded medical opinion.

But she is making a good recovery following two major operations, and it is hoped she will lead a normal life.

Charli's a little miracle.
Peta Steedman
Not only did Charli have to endure major surgery to put her heart back in the right place, she also had to overcome kidney failure and a potentially fatal chest infection.

Doctors at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital had to close the gap in Charli's chest following surgery with a mixture of existing skin and protective Gore-tex. This was then covered in clingfilm to keep the infection at bay.

Now, at six weeks old, she is able to breathe on her own.

She has also begun breast feeding and is gaining weight rapidly.

Her mother Peta Steedman, from Queensland, told Channel Nine in Australia: "Charli's a little miracle.

"It was touch and go at times and I shed plenty of tears. She's had some good luck. The doctor's say her heart is perfect despite being outside her body when born."

Charli will need further surgery to reconstruct part of her breast bone when older.

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