Mike Aquilina’s friend, a turtle breeder, told him about a tiny baby turtle who needed a home. Mike was willing to step up and care for her… but nothing prepared him for the bond he’d create with this one-of-a-kind reptile.
Not only is the adorable, pink-bellied, side-neck turtle albino, but she was also born with her heart beating outside her chest — a condition so rare among animals that the veterinary community has yet to give it a medical name. In humans, the rare condition is known as ectopia cordis. According to British Medical Journal Case Reports, it’s a “complete or partial displacement of the heart outside the thoracic cavity.”
Shortly after Mike brought the turtle into his New Jersey home, her presence improved his quality of life — hence the reason he named her Hope.
“Hope has changed my life for the better in such a short amount of time,” he told Caters News Agency. “I keep her water extra clean, give her a basking area that is as soft as possible and handle her as little as possible.”
Because she is so delicate and her deformity must be kept clean at all times, Hope must be separated from other turtles.
But as you’re about to see, she’s equally as fearless as she is fragile, and she continues to survive despite the odds stacked against her.
This story originally appeared at LittleThings.