The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 23, 2013

For Alyssa Sandeen, waiting is the heart of the matter

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ROCHESTER —

Earlier in the day, she’d played a trick on one of her nurses and squirted her with water from a syringe. Now she was armed with a bigger syringe, and was taking the water fight to a new level.

Slowly she walked from her room to the nurse’s station, waiting to find the hospital medical staff that have become almost family to her. When she found them, she tried to pretend as if she had no mischief on her mind, but eventually the syringe came out and she unloaded it.

Not to be outdone, a pair of nurses found their syringes and fought back. For a few minutes, the nurse’s station looked more like a backyard pool party — and like the nurses understood a young woman cooped up in a hospital room might need a little silly time.

Sandeen says she’s curious about the next person who will ultimately have to die to allow her to live. What kind of person will it be, she wonders, will it be a guy or a girl, will they be like her, will they understand how important their gift is?

In 2004, Sandeen and her family appeared on “The John Walsh Show,” and she got a chance to meet the woman who made the decision to donate her son’s organs so others could live. (It’s still available via YouTube, just search for “Sandeen.”)

“I had six days beside him at the hospital,” the boy’s mother said on the show. “I had thought about donating his organs, and then I said no. And then the day before they pronounced him brain dead, they moved him over in the bed and I laid beside him, and I put my hand on his chest, and his little heart was beating so good. And I thought to myself, ‘What if he needed an organ, and no one would give him one?’ So I decided to go ahead and donate his organs. ... When I found out a child has got his heart, that just touched me.”

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