The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 20, 2012

Sandeen improves, is unhooked from heart and lung machine


The Free Press

— Alyssa Sandeen continues to make progress in medical efforts to return function to her transplanted heart.

Christopher Sandeen of Mankato says on his Facebook page that his 22-year-old daughter’s surgeons in Rochester tested her for about 40 minutes before unhooking the heart and lung machine that has been used to help stabilize her condition.

“Surgeons told us Alyssa is a miracle. She is doing great. Everything went perfect,” Sandeen wrote, adding that her donor heart worked “flawless” after the machine’s removal.

“She is still on life support, but not ‘full-blown’ life support, so she has a ways to go, but this was a HUGE hurdle she overcame.”

Alyssa was hospitalized in Rochester last week after her heart stopped beating twice. She was placed on a heart and lung machine as doctors worked to help her heart supply blood to her brain.

Although she underwent CPR for more than two hours the day she entered the hospital, her verbal communication afterward indicated her brain was not compromised

When Alyssa was 8 she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that caused her heart to grow to 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 donor heart became available from a 5-year-old Virginia boy who died in a car accident.