Houston, Tx (KTRK) — EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS FOOTAGE CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING DUE TO THE GRAPHIC NATURE OF THE MATERIAL.
A little Texas girl is doing well, four and a half months after being born with part of her heart outside her body.
Audrina Cardenas is now 4-and-a-half months old and sports a pink hair bow and pink toenails.
She has a long road ahead of her, but her mom says, she can do it.
"It was really hard actually because she has little toes," said Ashley Cardenas.
This little bitty girl is winning a man size struggle for survival. Audrina was born with a third of her heart beating on the outside of her body. A day after her birth, Texas Children's surgeons rebuilt her chest and put her heart inside her body.
Audrina is now out of the hospital, but has to stay nearby because she still needs oxygen and a feeding tube.
She has a feeding tube and a breathing tube right now and it doesn't even matter. It's all worth it. She's a smiling happy go lucky baby.
Ashley has learned to use the medical equipment, and is hoping the therapy she is getting will help her learn to swallow so she can take a bottle.
Audrina has no sternum to protect her heart, so they built her a little pink shield and if you look closely, you can see her little heart beating beneath her skin. She'll wear the shield outside until doctors build her a sternum out of her ribs that they hope will grow with her. They don't' know if she'll need another heart surgery, but today, she's growing and thriving.
"It's been very difficult but worth it," said Ms. Cardenas.
Audrina received blood several times in ICU. Ashley is grateful to her blood donors and encourages others to donate.
"We've been so blessed this whole time to come this far especially with her diagnosis we feel we should be able to give back some way," the mother told KTRK.
Ashley says she's looking forward to spring break when her twins, who are staying with their grandmother, will come for another visit with their baby sister.
She adds, one of the hardest parts of the past 5 months, is being separated from the rest of the family.
Doctors have not told her when she can go home.