Albino baby turtle born with its heart OUTSIDE its body has survived (despite having a condition so rare vets have yet to give it a name)
An albino baby turtle born with its heart beating outside its body has defied all the odds and appears to be thriving despite its disadvantages.
The tiny reptile, known as Hope, has such a rare condition that it has not yet been named in veterinary medicine.
A similar ailment in humans is called ectopia cordis and affects about one in 126,000 births.
The tiny reptile, known as Hope, has such a rare condition that the condition has not yet been named in veterinary science. She is albino and has her heart outside the correct cavity (pictured)
Owner Mike Aquilina – known as AquaMike on Instagram – looks after the Albino Pinkbelly Sideneck at his home in New Jersey.
He received Hope from his friend Gerard, a US turtle breeder.
Mr Aquilina, 29, said: ‘Hope has impacted my life in so many ways it actually makes me emotional.
‘She’s so small and so fragile, the most delicate thing but she’s fearless. People can see that and she’s got so many people rooting for her around the world.
‘She’s spreading hope while also giving me hope. Hope has changed my life for the better in such a short amount of time.’
Hope’s guardian has no guidance to follow when looking after the unique animal, so says he uses a ‘common-sense’ and provides extra care.
But unfortunately for Hope, this means that she has to be kept separate from the other turtles for the foreseeable future.
WHAT IS ECTOPIA CORDIS?
Ectopia cordis affects about one in 126,000 births.
It occurs when the heart is born outside the chest as the wall does not form properly and the organ ends up outside the protective layer.
Partial ectopia cordis can occur which involves the heart outside the wall but inside a layer of skin
Complete ectopia cordis is when the heart is located outside the chest wall, without anything – including any skin – to protect it.
This condition can include deformities of the chest (thorax), abdomen, or both.
Often, ectopia cordis is also accompanied by defects of the heart itself.
The rare heart defect is unknown in the species of Pinkbelly Sideneck but a similar condition in humans is dubbed ectopia cordis and affects about one in 126,000 births
Hope’s guardian has no guidance to follow when looking after the unique animal, so says he uses a ‘common-sense’ and provides extra care. But unfortunately for Hope, this means that she has to be kept separate from the other turtles for the foreseeable future
Mr Aquilina added: ‘I keep her water extra clean, give her a basking area that is as soft as possible and handle her as little as possible.
‘I’ve gone for the more natural approach as to a completely sterile one.
‘The goal is to keep her deformity clean and her immune system strong.’
‘I can’t risk another turtle accidentally puncturing her heart cavity.
‘Maybe one day in the future when she’s bigger and less susceptible to bacterial infection. For now, she’s got to live in a bit of a bubble.’
Owner Mike Aquilina – known as AquaMike on Instagram – looks after the Albino Pinkbelly Sideneck at his home in New Jersey. Mr Aquilina, 29, said: ‘Hope has impacted my life in so many ways it actually makes me emotional’
All of Hope’s food and medical supplies are supplied by ZooMed Laboratories, which leaves the tiny turtle free to bask and eat to her heart’s content. Currently there are no plans for surgery to correct her deformity
All of Hope’s food and medical supplies are supplied by ZooMed Laboratories, which leaves the tiny turtle free to bask and eat to her heart’s content.
Currently there are no plans for surgery to correct her deformity.
‘She’s such an eager eater. Hope loves Mysis shrimp and I peel off the hard outer skin so it’s easier for her to swallow and digest,’ Mr Aquilina said.
‘The same goes with krill and frozen silversides. She also enjoys clams, snails and frozen bloodworms.’
The turtle who brings hope to humanity
“Hope really gave me the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with people. So it’s not just about helping animals anymore – it’s about helping animals AND people because of Hope. There’s a lot more things that I’m really proud of. We made it to the news, we were on TV, lots of different opportunities that came because of Hope. Everything about keeping her and having her and being able to give her a life is really, really rewarding.”
Mike says many people think you can’t connect with a turtle like you can with a cat or dog. However, he and Hope share a very beautiful bond. Any time Mike comes home from work, she starts flailing her arms and splashing around in the water. She always gets excited to see him, just like a dog does when their owner returns from work. Her flapping her arms around is akin to a dog wagging its tail when it’s happy! She’s a very playful turtle, and Mike enjoys every second he gets with her.
When he first brought the tiny turtle home, he immediately began posting about her on social media. She’s inspired thousands of people so far, which makes her name very fitting. She even has her very own stuffed animal and vinyl figurine! All the proceeds help raise money for charities.
Mike can’t believe she’s made it so far in her journey. He says what inspires him most about Hope is that she doesn’t let her condition stop her from living her life. She’s the only turtle with an exposed heart in the world, making her truly one-of-a-kind.
Final thoughts: Hope the once-tiny turtle inspires thousands every day
You can find inspiration everywhere if you look hard enough. Of course, no one would expect a tiny turtle to restore their faith in life. That’s exactly what Hope has done for humanity – reminding people that they, too, can beat the odds. Mike adopted her when she was the size of a quarter, even though everyone doubted she’d survive.
Luckily, she’s now a healthy, happy full-grown turtle who got a second chance at life because of Mike. We hope you enjoyed this heartwarming story! Let us know what you think in the comments.