The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 28, 2013

Alyssa Sandeen heart transplant goes well


This time, Sandeen said, they were getting down to the wire on Alyssa's first donor heart.

"Doctors said they were surprised how rough her heart was," he said. "It's a good thing she got it when she did because she was really going downhill."

Word spread quickly in Mankato about Alyssa getting her heart yesterday. And within a few hours, Sandeen said they had dozens of family and friends descending on Rochester in a show of support for Alyssa. He said people were coming and going all night long, but he estimated that up to 50 people came to Rochester Thursday.

Transplanted hearts, he said, are kept cool once they're removed from the donor. They need to warm up, then, before they'll start beating in the recipient's chest. In some cases, donor hearts need to be shocked to start beating. This was not the case for Alyssa's new heart.

Sandeen said his daughter was getting stir crazy in St. Marys Hospital. She only ventured outside the building twice since November, including once a few weeks ago when a nurse wheeled Alyssa and an IV pole down the street to the Cherry Berry restaurant. Being cooped up, though, was getting to her.

"It was getting her down, and she was scared. She'd ask, what if I don't get my heart?" Sandeen said. It was during these times that her mother, Lisa, was her rock.

"She'd tell Lisa, 'I'm deteriorating, my body's deteriorating,' and she'd start to cry," Sandeen said. "And Lisa was there for her ... I don't know if Alyssa could have made it without Lisa."

Assuming all goes well, Alyssa is looking at probably three weeks in the hospital and three months living in Rochester, close to the hospital in case complications arise.

Alyssa hasn't said anything yet. She can't because she has a breathing tube. But her dad said it's been fairly easy to tell what she's thinking. He said he watched her after she'd come out of sedation, touching the area on her chest where her new heart had been inserted.




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