She was all smiles when a nurse wheeled her away for surgery.
"She just told us she loved us," Christopher Sandeen said of his daughter, Alyssa Sandeen, who was about to enter an operating room for the second heart transplant of her short life. "It wasn't goodbye. It was 'See ya later!'"
Alyssa Sandeen's transplant began at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. By 10 p.m., a doctor let them know the heart had been placed in her chest. By 3:30 a.m. Alyssa was back in the intensive care unit at St. Marys Hospital. Family was allowed in to see her at 4 a.m.
He said his daughter was still sedated at that time, but later in the day she was able to respond to basic commands, and was even asking for water.
Everything so far has gone without a hitch, Sandeen said. The family was told the heart is a young one, and came from somewhere in the region, although the family isn't sure how large the region is or how far the heart may have had to travel to get to Rochester.
"I'm shocked it's been going this good," he said. "Last time there were a lot of ups and downs."
When she was just 8 years old, Sandeen was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that caused her heart to grow four times its normal size. Doctors at the time said she had less than a 5 percent chance of survival. She likely had a day or so to live when a little boy in Virginia was hit by a truck and died.
The 15 years she's lived with that heart is about the typical life cycle of a transplant heart. As it has weakened, Sandeen has been on the list for a second transplant heart. She's lived in the hospital since November.