Matthew Blackwell’s heart is being held together by the tissues of a pig and a cow.

In the three years Matthew has been alive, he has been through two open heart surgeries, one of them the Norwood/Rastelli procedure, which has only been performed a few times in the world; it is being reported by stuff.co.nz.

Soon after his birth, Matthew's parents were told he had a congenital heart defect, but doctors wanted to try the risky, eight-hour surgery.

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With the Norwood/Rastelli procedure, Matthew’s right ventricle and aorta were patched up using a mixture of animal and human donor tissue, according to the Web site.

And all of this was done when the boy was just five-days-old.

Matthew, who lives in Takapuna, New Zealand, is now a healthy and happy toddler, said his mother Liz, but if he had been born two years earlier, doctors would not have been able to save him.

“I was so scared,” Liz Blackwell told stuff.co.nz. “Basically his heart was a mess. It was like a jigsaw puzzle that hadn’t been put together properly and with some of the vital pieces missing.”

Click here to read the full story from stuff.co.nz and to see a picture of Matthew.