ALYSSA SANDEEN: 2-time heart transplant survivor - KMSP-TV

Heart transplant survivor: 'I've died plenty of times and came back to life'

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Twenty-three-year-old Alyssa Sandeen is a two-time heart transplant survivor. The incredibly resilient Mankato, Minn. native is now out of the hospital and spoke with FOX 9 about what's next.

Sandeen is now on her third heart, she's looking great, feeling better and back on her feet. Now, she's looking forward to trying to fulfill all the hopes and dreams she's had to put on hold during her tough journey.

"There's so many chances of life that I have and this is the main one, and I get a whole new fresh start. I almost don't know where to begin," Sandeen said.

"I've died plenty of times and came back to life," she added.

At 8 years old, her heart failing, Sandeen had her last rites read to her when a donor heart saved her life the first time.

"I'm glad I live in these times," Sandeen said.

In the last year, that heart began to fail. In November, it even stopped a couple times, and two-and-a-half straight hours of CPR brought her back to life.

" Most of the time I think I am blessed. Sometimes I wonder why it happens to me," Sandeen said.

Two weeks ago, her number came up again. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic replaced her failing heart with one from another donor.

"All these people -- friends and family are around me. They're like, ‘You got a new heart.' I'm grinning. I got a new heart?" Sandeen said, recalling her post-surgery wake up.

Now, she's on the road to recovery – and says she tires very easily. She goes for walks around her Gift of Life transplant house where she is staying temporarily with Mayo keeping a watchful eye. She'll stay in the Rochester area for three months.

You can see where doctors took skin graphs from her leg, and she must carry what's called a wound-vac at all times to ensure there's no infection in her wound and help the area to heal faster.

Sandeen said she is so grateful for the incredible donations and medical care that has saved her life on several occasions. She hopes to one day travel the world and be an outspoken supporter of organ donation.

"I'm not ready to go, there's a lot more I want to do."

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