My name is Alexandra Mullin. I’m an 18 year old college student, and I was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect (ASD) when I was 11. I am currently studying music business at NYU’s New York campus.

From the age of six to 17, I danced ballet. I trained in many different styles of dance over the years, but ballet was always the most consistent and serious. Taking multiple classes a week and enrolling in month long summer intensive programs, I thought that dancing in a ballet company would be my future. I had my ASD repair when I was 11 – right in the middle of my ballet career – but it didn’t slow me down for a second. I still consider myself relatively athletic; dance is something that’s always been in me and I try to exercise regularly. In my dance classes, I was never unable to keep up with the other students. Often times I forgot there was ever anything wrong with my heart.

When I first learned that I had a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD), I was frightened – but I was more afraid for my parents; I really didn’t want them to worry. The day of surgery, the hardest thing I had to do was go to sleep; they were the ones who had to sit in anxiety until the operation was over. Looking back, it felt like we combed through every doctor in the Tri-State area and spent months searching for the right one. We ended up choosing a specialist at the NYU Medical Center (it was destined, I guess). The morning of the surgery, right before going into the operating room, is still very vivid. I remember being freezing cold, wrapped up in numerous blankets but still shivering before they carted me off. I didn’t feel that scared; I just didn’t want to see my family looking sad. One minute I was breathing in bubblegum scented anesthetic and the next minute I was waking up in another room with my dad in the chair beside my bed. The first couple days in the hospital were rough, but they didn’t last long. The hardest part of the recovery stage was being forced to take time off from dance, but it wasn’t long before I was back in my ballet slippers.

During my junior year of high school, I chose to trade in my ballet slippers for a guitar and a microphone. Music has been a large part of my life; and now, I plan on making it my career.

As for having been born with a CHD, I don’t feel different than any other healthy person; in fact, my life may even be healthier than most. The only difference is my ability to relate to those with similar problems to that which I had. I was extremely fortunate in the success of my ASD repair, but my fully mended heart always has and always will go out to all of the other children and adults who, I’m proud to say, are like me.

Be sure to check out Alex and her band “A Story Left Untold”

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