In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 6, 2018

Corn Palace Goes Red for Kadie

By In the Loop

Although Kadie Neuharth was 1,400 miles away, the Corn Palace in her hometown of Mitchell, South Dakota, glowed red as a sign of love for Kadie as she received a heart transplant.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, glowed red, a visible sign of the love the town was sending to Kadie Neuharth, a Mitchell native who was receiving a heart transplant 1,400 miles away.

Kadie's journey to that transplant began four years earlier, when mild headaches sent her to her doctor. When she mentioned she'd also been feeling lightheaded and experiencing shortness of breath, the doctor ordered an echocardiogram to rule out heart problems. Instead, the test results came back abnormal.

"Up to that point, I'd had no symptoms," Kadie says. "I was 27. I played sports. I was active." Doctors near her home in the Twin Cities ran more tests, but "nobody seemed super confident on what was going on," she tells The Daily Republic. "As every abnormal test came back, it was fear on top of fear. It was very scary."

After a year of more questions than answers, Kadie headed south to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where she finally received a diagnosis: restrictive idiopathic cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. She was relieved to have a diagnosis, but the news came with a new worry. Kadie was told that as the condition progressed, she would eventually need a heart transplant. "That doesn't ever leave your mind," she tells us. "You put your life on hold."

Three years after her diagnosis, doctors told Kadie it was time to be placed on the transplant list. Initially, she was listed for transplant in Minnesota. But in July, Kadie moved to Arizona to be placed on the transplant list at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus. The decision "was a strategic one," according to The Daily Republic. "The United States is divided into 11 transplantation districts. When an organ becomes available, it goes to someone on the transplant list in that region." Phoenix is in Region 5, which includes populous states like California and Nevada, making it more likely that a compatible heart would become available.

Just a month after Kadie arrived in Phoenix, that's exactly what happened. Though she was far from home, the brightly lit Corn Palace showed Kadie was far from forgotten in Mitchell that night. "The effects of transplantation often times reach far beyond the patient and their immediate family," Kadie's cardiologist, Brooks Edwards, M.D., tells us. "In Kadie's case, her transplant literally 'lit up' an entire community."

Less than three months after her transplant, Kadie tells us she's feeling better than she has in years. "I feel like I have a new lease on life," she says. "I don't forget I had a transplant, but I feel normal." And that's a feeling she wants to share with others who may find themselves facing a diagnosis like hers. "I want to show people it's possible to get through this and get your life back as an even stronger and more grateful person than ever before," she says. "I think we transplant patients are the privileged ones to be able to experience a transformation like no other and to get a second chance."

You can hear more of Kadie's story in this video. Transform your thoughts into comments before you use the handy social media tools to share this story with others.



Tags: Dr. Brooks Edwards, heart transplant, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Patient Stories

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