• By Dana Sparks

In the Loop: Transplant patients with similar journeys meet

August 21, 2018

transplant patients Stefani Pentiuk Thompson and Alyssa Sandeen with their mothers in a waiting room

Stefani Pentiuk Thompson and Alyssa Sandeen have been Mayo patients since childhood, each needing a heart transplant and then a kidney transplant. Until this summer, their paths had never crossed.


Side-by-side, the parallels are uncanny. First heart transplant before the age of 10? Check. Secondary kidney transplant, each with their mom as the living donor? Check. More medical tests, procedures and follow-up appointments during the past two decades than either cares to think about? Check.

Despite having all of this in common and sharing many of the same care team members at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, Stefani Pentiuk Thompson and Alyssa Sandeen had never met face-to-face. That is, until they happened to run into each other in Rochester earlier this summer. Stefani tells us she had been following Alyssa's journey on her CaringBridge page "and just sort of cheering her on from a distance for years."

Then one day after a cardiology appointment, Stefani recognized Alyssa and her mom, Lisa, sitting in the lobby at Mayo. "Even though I'm normally a reserved person, I was like, 'I've wanted to meet this girl for so long; I have to go talk to her,'" Stefani tells us.

So she did. "I walked up to them and said, 'Hi, you probably don't know me, but my name is Stefani and I'm just so excited to finally meet you,'" Stefani says. "It was just so nice to finally meet her and share stories with her and her mom." Read the rest of their story.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.

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