The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 23, 2013

For Alyssa Sandeen, waiting is the heart of the matter



Since then, Sandeen has led a somewhat normal life. Or, at least as normal as a life can be in a town where everyone knows you’re the girl who almost died when she was 8 and had a heart transplant.

More recently health troubles have turned that somewhat normal life into a not-so-normal life. In 2010 she underwent a kidney transplant, courtesy of her mother. Prior to that she’d been undergoing dialysis treatments three times a week. And then last November, her heart stopped twice in one morning, including once when doctors and nurses spent two hours performing CPR on her.

She considers herself lucky, of course.

“Two hours of CPR … At what point do you give up?” she said.

Added her mother, “She’s had so many miracles.”

That marathon CPR session saved her life, of course, but it wasn’t without a cost. The lack of blood circulation to her extremities resulted in compartment syndrome in her right leg. Today, she says, that leg is in a lot of pain as the tissues begin to come back to life. She’s also needed skin grafting on her chest from complications of a chest IV leak that seeped fluid under her skin, leaving a portion of her chest blackened.

After that, she made a few trips back to Mankato for visits, but for the most part, she’s been in Rochester ever since. Now, to be placed on status 1A on the transplant list, she needs to reside in the hospital. That way, when news comes that her new heart is ready, she’ll be ready.

Living in St. Marys Hospital, she says, is no picnic. She loves the nurses, whom she says have become like family. But Sandeen likes to have fun. And that’s tough to do when you’re limited by your ailing health; walking a short distance causes her to become breathless, and visitors must wear gowns to prevent the spread of infection.

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