12/06/2012 04:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Liam Dalgarno, Baby Born With Aortic Stenosis, Heart Size Of Soccer Ball, Recovering (PHOTOS)

After enduring a frightening encounter with open-heart surgery in his first few hours of life, little Liam Dalgarno, a child in the UK, has survived the ordeal and is recovering.

Liam suffered from a condition known as aortic stenosis. The ailment is caused by a malfunctioning heart valve between the left ventricle and the aorta, and in Liam's case, had swollen his heart to the size of a soccer ball, reports the Daily Mail.

In an X-ray image taken before the emergency surgery, Liam's outsize heart can be seen displacing his spinal cord and forcing the infant's ribs into an unnatural shape.

"We were told we could either go ahead with the surgery or take him home to die," Liam's mother, Kirsty, told the Daily Mail. "Saying goodbye to our son was unthinkable so we agreed to the surgery."

Miraculously, six surgeries and several years later, Liam is a happy and healthy 3-year-old.

Liam's X-rays before the procedure (left) and after (right):
liam dalgarno aortic stenosis

This severe form of aortic stenosis almost always occurs in newborn infants, according to the Cincinnati Children's hospital. A number of treatment options are available, ranging from relatively non-invasive procedures to full open-heart surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

Aortic stenosis affects an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. Of those cases, 500,000 are considered "severe."

For those diagnosed with the condition later in life, WCYB reports a "game-changing" procedure now allows doctors to skip open-heart surgery and access the faulty valve instead via a catheter inserted in an I.V.