The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 16, 2012

Sandeen's condition stabilized, her father says

— Alyssa Sandeen’s tenuous condition has stabilized for now, her father said Friday, and her heart appears to be strengthening.

It is still struggling, however, to get blood flowing to her upper body, including her brain. For that reason, doctors reconfigured the tubes aiding her blood circulation so that more blood could more easily flow to her brain.

Her heart, which doctors believe has been rejected by her body, is growing stronger. Alyssa, 22, who has lived with a transplant heart since 1998, even communicated verbally on Thursday, whispering the words “I love you” to her boyfriend.

“That was a clear indication,” Christopher Sandeen said, that Alyssa’s brain function was not compromised by the more than two hours she spent undergoing CPR on Tuesday.

Sandeen was hospitalized in Rochester after her heart stopped twice Tuesday morning. She remains on a heart and lung machine. Her heart function is returning — doctors say it is about at 35 percent now — but her lungs are full of fluid and doctors say it will take a long time to recover.

“Last night was pretty scary,” Christopher Sandeen said, referring to the work doctors did to figure out how to help her heart pump blood to her brain.

In 1998, Alyssa, then 8, 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 emphasized she had a less than 5 percent chance at survival.

When news of the available heart came on Sept. 4, she probably had only a day or so left to live.

Alyssa received the heart from a 5-year-old Virginia boy who died in a car accident.

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