Skip to main content
February 3, 2017 is National Wear Red Day.
Let's unite to fight heart disease and stroke.
Wear red and give to support research and education.
Fundraising Goal: $800,000

Bismarck, ND



Meet Ethan!

At 20 weeks of pregnancy, Brian and Brenda Mueller were having their first ultrasound on little baby Ethan. Doctors couldn’t quite visualize his heart properly, so they scheduled another ultrasound for two weeks later. The scan was “fuzzy” again, but the technician assured the Muellers that their very active baby was making the scan difficult. Doctors recommended the family visit Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for a more complete scan to double-check everything. Two weeks later, the Muellers found themselves “bombarded” by doctors, cardiologists and pediatricians – at 24 weeks of pregnancy Brian and Brenda learned that little Ethan’s scan showed indications of Down Syndrome and a severe heart defect associated with Down Syndrome.

While doctors assured the Muellers that Ethan’s heart defect was fisable, for the Mueller’s the news was devastating. “I was so fearful about the day he was born, knowing he would have to breathe on his own with his heart defect,” Brenda said. “As long as he was in my tummy I knew he would be safe. It just makes you appreciate life!”

Ethan was born and weighed a whopping 8 lbs. After his birth, Doctors were able to better diagnose Ethan’s heart condition, and the Muellers learned that Ethan’s condition was a little worse than expected. Ethan was diagnosed with Endocardio Cushion Defect. He had a large Atrial Septal Defect and an even larger Ventricular Septal Defect, which affected his breathing. In addition, his Mitral Valve was not closing all the way. Ethan spent the first week of his life in the NICU.

The Muellers hoped that Ethan could hold on and gain a little more weight before having surgery to repair his congenital heart defect, but at two months of age, he only weighed 6 lbs and was so tired, he would not eat. When he did eat, he couldn’t keep food down. Ethan was diagnosed with heart failure and needed open heart surgery.

Within a week, the family was at the Mayo Clinic for surgery. He had his surgery on a Tuesday, and by the following Friday, he was discharged from the hospital weighing 11 lbs. and eating like a champ!

Today, Ethan is a happy, smart, almost-13-year-old boy that loves his brothers, basketball, school, Michael Jordan and the New York Yankees. He does well in school and especially loves math and social studies.

While there is a chance that Ethan will have to have another surgery someday to repair his Mitral Valve, thanks to the Doctors at Sanford Health and the Mayo Clinic, today he is an active little boy full of energy and life.