A baby born with his heart outside his chest has defied the odds – and is now home with his parents.

Surgeons said the boy would live for less then a week after he was born in eastern China with his heart just under the skin of his belly.

But more than a month later the infant is home with his parents who are trying to raise more than $40,000 for an operation to move his heart into his chest.

"You can see the heart beating under his skin and we don't dare let him sleep in a cot just in case he rolls on to his tummy and stops his heart beating,” said the boy’s father Lee Chen.

"He needs an operation but we're a poor family and we hope we can get help from some kindhearted people," added Chen.

The condition, known as ectopia cordis, is an extremely rare congenital defect where the heart grows outside the body and the chest wall and sternum fail to develop.

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