Baby with heart that 'swelled to the size of a football' makes miracle recovery from surgery
Little Liam diagnosed with faulty valve which made his heart swellHis parents were told he would die without an operation but could also die during surgerySurgery to replace the faulty valve with a pig's valve was a success
18:56 GMT, 5 December 2012
A baby born with a swollen heart has made a miraculous recovery after having risky surgery.
The valves in Liam Dalgarno’s heart were so narrow that it caused severe pressure on the left side of his heart. His mother said doctors told her it had swollen to the size of a football.
Parents Kirsty Taylor and Peter Dalgarno, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, were warned their newborn son would die unless he had an operation – but he could also die during surgery.
Scroll down for video
Liam after his first operation: His heart valves were so narrow it caused pressure on the left side of his heart
X-rays showing Liam's heart pre (left) and post (right) operation. His faulty heart valve was replaced with a pig's heart valve
Now, after battling through six more operations to fix his heart, little Liam looks like any healthy three-year-old.
mother Kirsty, 22, said: '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
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
'Liam was whisked away so quickly that I felt like I didn’t have a son – the feeling haunted me for months.
never even dreamed I’d be choosing schools for my little boy. It’s
fantastic to see him living like any other three-year-old.'
pregnancy had been normal up to 38 weeks when she went for her final
check up. She collapsed in the midwife’s office and started bleeding
All grown up: Liam (left) with father Peter, mother Kirsty and sister Scarlett. His mother said: 'We treasure every moment'
What a difference three years makes: Mother Kirsty feared she would lose little Liam (aged 3 months left), but he battled through surgery
She said: 'At first the doctors tried to say it was normal but they soon realised it was serious and I had to go into labour. It took 13 hours and Liam was two weeks early but everything seemed fine.
'Back on the ward I realised straight away he wasn’t moving and kept buzzing the nurses. They said he had a headache and was having trouble breathing.
'They took him for x-rays and checks twice, and the third time he never came back. I didn’t know where my new son was from 3am to 9am.
'When he got moved to intensive care it was petrifying. Me and Peter were only young and had never seen anyone in intensive care before. We kept thinking ‘Why us’
'I had to watch other new mums taking photos of their kids and taking them home when I didn’t even know where mine was.
'But all the hospital staff were incredible. In Birmingham, away from all our friends and family, they supported us the whole time.'
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.
Liam as he was transported from Newcastle under Lyme hospital to Birmingham Children's Hospital
Precious bundle: First time Peter got to hold his son Liam
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.'
The new family together: Liam's parents have made a book for him to help him understand his heart condition
Father 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.'
The young parents have also made a book for Liam to help him understand his heart condition.
Kirsty said: 'It’s hard to explain to a little boy why he has to go to hospital when his cousins and friends don’t.
'We can’t give him the book yet because he’s at that age where he’ll destroy it, but we show him and tell him about his heart problem all the time.'
AORTIC STENOSIS: THE RARE HEART SWELLING CONDITION
Aortic stenosis is a heart defect that may be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develop later in life). If the problem is congenital, then something occurred during the first eight weeks of pregnancy to affect the development of the aortic valve.
The aortic valve is found between the left ventricle in the heart and the aorta – the largest artery in the body. It has three 'leaflets' that function like a one-way door, allowing blood to flow forward into the aorta, but not backward into the left ventricle.
Aortic stenosis is the inability of the aortic valve to open completely.
With aortic stenosis, problems with the aortic valve make it harder for the leaflets to open and permit blood to flow forward from the left ventricle to the aorta.
This means it's harder for the blood to flow through the valve and can cause the heart to enlarge.
Congenital aortic stenosis occurs in 4 to 6 per cent of all children with congenital heart disease and is three times more common in boys than girls. Around one in 45 births is affected by a congenital heart condition.
Few children show symptoms during infancy, but problems tend to increase sharply in adulthood.
Christmas is a particularly special time for the family as Liam had his second operation on Boxing Day.
Kirsty said: 'That first Christmas was hard because we thought we’d be at home with a happy, healthy baby by then – instead we were still back and forth to the hospital.
'This year we plan to spend as much time as possible with all our families to make sure everyone gets to see Liam and his little sister Scarlett, who is seven months old.
'We treasure every family moment because we know how close we were to losing Liam.
'Now we’ve stopped thinking ‘Why us’ and started thinking how lucky we are that Liam is strong enough to keep going.
'I know he’ll face whatever comes his way with his cheeky smile.'
VIDEO: Treating Critical Aortic Stenosis (AS):
'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'adUrl' : “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/adssz=8×8&iu=%2F7023%2Fdm.video%2Fdm_video_health&ciu_szs=&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=xml_vast2&unviewed_position_start=1&url=[referrer_url]&correlator=[timestamp]”,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv31641”,
'videoPlayer' : “2013796693001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2243495/Baby-makes-miracle-recovery-heart-swelled-size-football.html”