06/12/2012 07:49 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Baby Whose Heart Swelled To The Size Of A Football Is Saved By Transplant From A Pig

Baby whose heart swelled to the size of a football is saved by transplant from a pig Caters

A baby whose heart swelled to the size for a football has been saved thanks to a transplant from a pig.

The valves in Liam Dalgarno's heart were so narrow that it caused severe pressure on the left side of his heart.

His mum and dad, Kirsty Taylor and Peter Dalgarno, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, were told he would die unless he had an operation - but he could also die during surgery.

The condition, called critical aortic stenosis, means the valve taking blood out of the heart is narrowed, affecting the flow of blood to the body and the circulation of oxygen to the brain.

But now, after seven operations to fix his heart, little Liam has been fitted with a valve from a pig's heart and he looks like any healthy three-year-old.

His mum Kirsty, 22, told the local paper: "When doctors said his heart was the size of a football we couldn't understand. How was our tiny baby surviving with a heart that huge?

"We were told we could either go ahead with the surgery or take him home to die. Saying goodbye to our son was unthinkable so we agreed to the surgery.

"Liam was whisked away so quickly that I felt like I didn't have a son - the feeling haunted me for months."

Liam's cardiology consultant, Dr Desai, said: "Liam was born with a very critical aortic stenosis. It causes a severe impact on the pumping chamber and hence the body circulation is significantly compromised.

"He had an emergency procedure at just 12 hours old and has since undergone a further three open heart surgeries.

"We were initially concerned that his heart function wouldn't recover fully however we are delighted that Liam's heart is now functioning much like any other child his age.

"He does face further operations in the future, but we are all pleased with Liam's progress."

In May last year Liam had an operation to replace his valve with a pig's heart valve.

Kirsty said: "I don't really like the thought of Liam having an animal inside him but it's whatever it takes to keep him alive."

Dad Peter, 25, a fast food worker, added: "It's a bit weird to think a pig is keeping your little boy alive.

"The valve will need replacing as Liam gets older and grows so we tell him the scar on his chest is a zip so the doctors can get in and out easily."