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A new beat of life
Alex Latimer

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aortic surgery is delicate work, but it becomes even trickier when your patient is eight years old

​It's news no parent wants to hear, but Brian and Jacqui Latimer were told that their son, Alex, may fall asleep and never wake up again.

They lived with that fear for nearly eight years, until a collaborative operation between Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) gave them the opportunity to plan for the future. 

Alex is the Latimers' fifth child, and he was born at home in Bowmanville, Ont. The first 24 hours were fine. "The birth was normal and natural," says Jacqui. "He was big, 11 pounds, and we noticed that his feet were clubbed and his hands were curled. At first they thought it was because he was so long."

The next day was the start of their medical journey. The midwife didn't like how Alex was breathing. The family went to the Markham Stouffville Hospital for a series of tests and then went to their pediatrician, who said Alex was normal but a lot quieter. But he sent them to a pediatric cardiologist "just to make sure."