TODAY   |  January 27, 2013

Baby born with heart outside body goes home

Mother Ashley Cardenas says that it’s a blessing she gets to take her baby Audrina home, after she was born with one-third of heart outside her body. Only 8 out of every million babies are born with this defect and 90 percent of them die. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> called a miracle baby , a three-month-old born with her heart outside her chest. as katy tur reports, she is proving that survivors come in all sizes.

>> hey, look at mommy.

>> to say audrina cardenas is lucky would be to discount her tremendous strength. the three and a half-month-old is fitted with a shield and about to go home for the first time.

>> it is a very, very big step. it has been a blessing to be able to say we are finally going home .

>> reporter: the baby girl was born with one-third of her heart outside of her body, a rare congenital defect . only 8 babies out of every 1 million are born with the defect. 90% are stillborn or die within days. she was diagnosed at 16 weeks in the womb. you can see her holding her own heart in this mri. she was born full-term on october 16th and immediately rushed into surgery.

>> as a mother, you look at her just like you look at in he other child. that's your baby. in a mother's eyes, sometimes you don't see her any other way. she smiled after the successful surgery. now, you can see her tiny heartbeating just below her skin.

>> she doesn't have a sternum. she doesn't have anything over her heart besides the skin and the little muscle.

>> reporter: without a sternum, the pink shield is deseenigned to protect her chest and her tiny heart as it gets stronger.

>> doctors may end up taking a piece of the child's rib and putting it in the location of the breast bone so that it, in turn, will turn into the new breast bone .

>> reporter: doctors have been watching over her since the day she was born. on friday, they had a rare chance to give this mother and daughter a happy good-bye.

>> thank you. take care.

>> good-bye. we'll see you soon.

>> we wish her all the best. amazing how far medical science has come.

>> it really is.