ROCHESTER, Minn. - A heart transplant didn't stop a North Dakota teenager from celebrating her junior prom, even from her hospital bed.
"It was absolutely amazing," said Bree Hanson, 18, of Tioga, N.D.
Since Hanson was recovering from a heart transplant at St. Mary's Hospital Mayo Clinic, her classmates at Tioga High School instead brought the prom to her.
This weekend, thanks to the technology of FaceTime, a friend walked her down the prom's "Grand March" using his iPad. Classmates held up signs saying "Get Well Soon, Bree" and "We Miss You." A professional photographer captured the touching tribute.
Back in Rochester, a St. Mary's nurse who is also a professional hairdresser did Hanson's hair and makeup. The evening was a true affair of the heart after lifelong illness.
Hanson was born with a congenital heart defect called double outlet right ventricle. It's a condition where both major arteries are connected to the right ventricle. Doctors told her she would eventually need a transplant.
"They didn't expect me to live as long as I did, but I followed everything, listened to the doctors, I made it, so pretty exciting," she said.
Hanson said recent illness put her higher on the waiting list and finally in late February, a call came saying that her heart was on its way.
"I was in study hall. I started crying, just in shock," said Hanson.
Hanson underwent the transplant Feb. 25 and will spend three months in Rochester recuperating with hopes to head back to high school in the fall for her senior year.
She turned 18 on Tuesday. She celebrated the milestone in the hospital with pink decorations, a pink camouflage birthday cake and full understanding of her greatest gift.
"I hope to live my life to the fullest and be happy because I have a second chance in life now," said Hanson.
Hanson said she is eager to get back to her favorite hobbies, like target shooting and four wheeling. She's also making plans to attend college in Minot, N.D. She said she hopes to one day thank the donor's family.
"I hope we can meet the family that donated such a gift," said her mother, Terry West. "Her recovery is short, but they are missing part of their family."
April is Donate Life Month. Minnesotans can register online to be an organ, eye and tissue donor and also can register to be a donor by checking the box on their driver's license or state ID card application.
For more information on organ donation, go to www.donatelifeamerica.org.