(Mankato, MN) – The Mankato native who’s undergone a kidney transplant and two heart transplants – and beaten the odds at every turn – is celebrating another birthday.
Alyssa Sandeen turns 28 today (Sunday), capping off what has been another life-changing year for the young woman.
Last August, Sandeen finally learned whose heart now beats inside her and she got to meet the donor’s family. Katlyn Leekley of Jesup, Iowa, was 20-years-old when she was killed by a drunk driver in 2013. Her heart was donated to Sandeen.
During the meeting, Sandeen gave Leekley’s family a teddy bear with a recording of her heartbeat, made at MCHS Mankato with a specialized stethoscope, speaker and recording device.
Sandeen received Leekley’s heart during her second transplant at age 23, as her first transplanted heart was failing.
Her first was needed at the age of 8, due to a weakening of her heart muscle called cardiomyopathy. That heart came from a five-year-old boy who died after being hit by a truck.
Sandeen also had a kidney transplant at the age of 20, donated by her mother.
In addition to being an ambassador for organ donations, Sandeen and her family have now also become involved in the fight against drunk driving, in honor of Kate Leekley.
Sandeen now lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and works as a home health aide and a 911 dispatcher for an ambulance service.
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