The Talon

Sierra Mullen Q&A

After the premature death of her son, Sierra Mullen hopes to raise awareness and funding for congenital heart conditions.

Jimmy Burton, Copy Editor

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Every year, one in 125 newborns will be diagnosed with congenital heart disease. One Severna Park teen seeks to help raise awareness and funding for these conditions. “I just want to spread awareness and help people realize how common these conditions are,” Mullen said. Photos courtesy of Sierra Mullen

After her son, Tucker, was diagnosed with left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, an extremely rare congenital heart disease, senior Sierra Mullen knew that she didn’t want any family to go through what her family did. Mullen is now in the process of founding a foundation to raise money and awareness for congenital heart disease.

Q: What is Tucker’s story

A: Tucker was born on Sep. 26, 2017 and was thought to be a healthy baby. When we took him for his two week checkup, his pediatrician found a heart murmur, which led us to take Tucker to the cardiologist. When we went to the cardiologist he told us “Nine times out of ten a heart murmur is nothing but this is not the case with Tucker.” From there we went to Children’ National Medical Center where they had an emergency room waiting for us. Tucker was then admitted into the Heart and Kidney Unit and diagnosed with left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy. The hope was to put him on medication and allow him to live a relatively normal life. We left the hospital on Oct. 31, and were readmitted on Dec. 15. When he was readmitted his doctor told us that his condition was getting worse and that he would be admitted into the intensive care unit. On Dec. 16, Tucker was medically sedated and paralyzed to help with procedures. We knew that he needed a heart transplant and the doctors were working constantly to make sure he could get on the list. Later Tucker developed problems with seizures. We found out that he would most likely not be a transplant candidate on Jan. 6 since he kept on having strokes which covered his brain in blood clots, his body wouldn’t have accepted the heart and his quality of life would’ve been low. On Jan. 7, Tucker died.

Q: Do you have a name for your foundation yet?

A: Not yet, I just started forming it so I don’t exactly have a name yet but I want it to be something in honor of Tucker. I was thinking something along the lines of  “Team Tuck” or “Tough like Tuck.”

Q: What do you hope to do with your foundation?

A: I want to raise awareness and money for congenital heart defects, specifically left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy. I want people to realize that congenital heart defects are more common than cancer however, they receive less funding. People tend to think that if they can’t see that a kid is sick then the’re not sick, but that’s not true. The only visible sign of congenital heart disease is that sometimes babies will get a little puffy.

Q: In the meantime, is there anywhere where you recommend people donate if they wish to help your cause?

A: If you’re going to donate to a hospital, I strongly recommend Children’s National Medical center, but specifically the heart and kidney unit and the cardiac intensive care unit. Everyone there was amazing and did so much for me and my family and I just want them to receive the same funding as other departments. I don’t want people to think that Cancer is no big deal, but I want them to realize that there are other diseases that don’t get the same attention.

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