To family and friends, Christina Less is Mousie. That’s how she introduces herself; in fact, very few people know her real first name. It’s a nickname she was given as a baby but not because she was a tiny, or even a quiet or timid, infant. Rather, it came from the fact that Christina had undergone three open-heart surgeries before age 3. Given that her arms were so weak from the many blood draws and injections she’d received, her medical team inserted intravenous lines into the veins in her head. Her shaved head gave her the appearance of a little mouse; hence, the nickname – Mousie.
Mousie was born with tricuspid atresia, an extremely rare heart defect. Normally, blood flows from the body into the right atrium, then through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle and on to the lungs. If the tricuspid valve is not working properly, the blood cannot reach the lungs to pick up oxygen.