The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 8, 2013

Sandeen could be out of hospital by end of week

New heart is doing well as it was a near perfect match

By Robb Murray

---- — Alyssa Sandeen continues her quick recovery, and by the end of the week, she could be out of the hospital room she's called home since November.

“She's doing pretty good,” said her father, Christopher Sandeen, as he took a break from his job at River Hills Mall. “There is a possibility she could get released to Gift of Life transplant house by Thursday.”

Sandeen, 23, received a donor heart last week. The family knows little about the donor, only that it was from a young person, and that it was a near perfect match for her.

If she does get out of the hospital this week, she'll still need to stay close to St. Marys Hospital. Doctors want to keep her close and will require her to be checked daily to make sure all is going well with her new heart. All breathing/feeding/IV tubes have been removed as well.

It appears, Chris Sandeen said, that the new heart is already doing some good. Alyssa has compartment syndrome in one of her legs. With the new, stronger heart, Sandeen said improved blood flow is causing Alyssa's leg to get better.

“They're hoping it will come back to close to normal,” he said. “I'm sure it will be somewhat noticeable when she walks.”

Sandeen said that, back in November, Alyssa had been invited to compete for Miss Minnesota. A few days later, she had the first of two heart attacks. That led to her hospitalization and extended stay in the Rochester hospital.

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'd 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.

Sandeen said Alyssa has very emotional. He said it could have something to do with getting off of some of the pain medication she's been on.

"She's crying a lot," he said. "It's scary having somebody else's heart."