Twice a heart transplant recipient, Alyssa Sandeen fights for her life again

A new heart was supposed to save her life, but now Alyssa Sandeen is back in the hospital as her body rejects her transplant.

Her family is holding on hope that she can fight through it.

Fox 9 has covered Alyssa since her first heart transplant in 1998, and through her second in 2013.

Now, she is fighting for her life once again.

"She's had a rollercoaster ride,” said Chris Sandeen. “She's been in and out quite a bit but nothing really major."

For most of her 28 years, Alyssa Sandeen has been no stranger to hospitals, but now she is back at the Mayo Clinic after developing complications from her second heart transplant.

"It’s been pretty stressful worrying about her heart function,” Chris Sandeen added.

On Labor Day, 20 years to the day after she received her first heart transplant at the age of 8, Sandeen was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she now lives. Then she was transferred to St. Mary's in Rochester.

Doctors say her heart function was about half of what it should be at around 30 percent and they discovered her body was rejecting the second transplanted heart she received five years ago.

"Yeah it was pretty scary,” Chris Sandeen said. “I guess she got up from the couch and told my wife 'Mom, I think I’m going to code again.' yeah it was pretty scary."

Chris Sandeen says since then doctors have flooded Alyssa Sandeen's system with anti-rejection drugs and are replacing her blood plasma to reduce the number of antibodies attacking her heart.

He says this most recent health crisis is taking a toll on his usually upbeat daughter's emotions.

"She's been really scared lately,” Chris Sandeen said. “She thinks this could be something big. It's been tough on her. There's been a lot of tears lately and its tough on us because there is nothing we can do except comfort her and give her confidence."

It’s a sad irony the organ that once saved Alyssa's life is now threatening it, but her father says, just like Alyssa has done time and time again, he believes her heart will bounce back.

"It’s tough one,” said Chris Sandeen. “Just hope she comes out ok on all. Hopefully she can have a normal life."