ROCHESTER, Minn. - Most of us don't look forward to any time in the hospital, but imagine living in a hospital room for half a year.
Last December doctors told Jessica Danielson, 30, of Duluth she had to move into St. Mary's Hospital Mayo Clinic until she received two lifesaving organ transplants. After more than six months of waiting, she's now received a new heart and liver.
Her brother Brent Danielson drove from Cloquet the moment she called him Monday with the long awaited news.
"They were getting her prepped, nurses coming in and hugging with tears after six months with her, she made a family here after six months. They were bigger tears than even most of our family. All night, they had tears of joy for her, said Danielson, who said the surgery began Monday night.
She told him "let's rock this" before pausing with her own tears for two families.
"One of the things Jessica said before she went down to surgery is let's remember that someone else is grieving at this moment," he said.
Jessica Danielson diagnosed with restrictive cardio myopathy at age 19, which means her heart doesn't relax fully between beats and fill with flood. The condition led congestive heart failure. Doctors at Mayo Clinic say her lifesaving heart-liver transplant is only seen at the hospital around twice a year, and a six month wait wouldn't be unusual for the rare procedure, because both organs have to come from the same person.
The surgery took 13 hours with a few complications.
"A couple bumps in the road, some bleeding here and there., with scar tissue from surgery she had two years ago on her heart," said Danielson.
He says up until the moment she went into surgery, she was rarely without a smile, teaching those around her about faith.
Tuesday morning, Mayo Clinic staff said she was recovering well in the hours after her surgery. Danielson will likely spend the next three months in Rochester as she adjusts to her new organs.
On her Facebook before her surgery, she wrote, "Today is the day my life begins."
Danielson hopes her story will remind many about the importance of organ donation. According to LifeSource, more than 2,800 people in the Upper Midwest are waiting for a transplant. Statistics show that nationally, 18 people a day die waiting for a transplant.
For more information about organ donation, visit donatelifemn.org, or nationally, donatelife.net.
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