In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 7, 2014

Alyssa Sandeen’s Amazing Journey

By In the Loop

Alyssa Sandeen is on the road to health after a series of medical hurdles. Alyssa Sandeen was just 8 years old the first time she woke up in a hospital bed -- a toy doll with matching blonde hair by her side, a brand-new heart beating in her chest. Her own young heart had to be replaced after doctors determined it was "growing too fast." That first transplant, as we've previously reported, had come "just in time," as she'd been kept alive by a heart-lung machine for 11 days prior with no heartbeat of her own. Then a donor heart was found.

The 15 years that followed have included more medical hurdles -- a kidney transplant (her mom was her donor), skin cancer, skin grafting, a heart attack, and to top it all off, a second and then third heart transplant, the most recent of which took place in June 2013. But Alyssa has managed to keep a smile on her face and determination in her heart through it all. "If anything goes wrong, I just continue to put in my head that there's another day," she told KTTC-TV last summer. "I always set goals, and that usually helps me."

Hopefully now the hurdles have turned to speed bumps, and her “road to recovery is almost complete,” as Rochester's FOX 47-TV recently reported. This month, Alyssa will undergo a round of surgeries to repair "a foot drop that occurred when she was on life support, receiving her transplant." But these are surgeries she tells the station she "feels good about" and ones she isn't going to let stand in the way of living the life she's always imagined for herself. "I have always liked to stay positive," she tells FOX 47. "Even if you are in the worst of times, there's always the possibility of getting better."

Speaking of sounding a positive note, as the station reports, things in her personal life have gotten exciting as Alyssa's become engaged to her "best friend, Adam," who she bonded with during her time at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys campus. "All of a sudden, he pulls out this ring and my heart starts throbbing," Alyssa says. "I was like, 'Oh my god, he's serious.'" Almost as serious, perhaps, as she is about keeping her body and her mind healthy. "We're going to get married in 2016, most likely, because I have a couple surgeries coming up to help me out and I want to make sure I'm good and healed and have everything just how I want it … like a fairytale," she says.

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Tags: Patient Stories

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