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I'm Just Sayin': Patient's transplant hopes are finally fulfilled

Sarah Hackenmiller, whom I wrote about in Saturday's column, knew not to get her hopes up too high when a set of lungs with her blood type arrived for a transplant on Sunday.

One day this summer, she was being prepped for transplant surgery when doctors had to inform her and her family that the lungs that had arrived were not suitable for transplant. She'd been told at about 10 a.m. that a transplant was imminent. But after Sarah arrived at the operating room, doctors told her that "they had some things about the lungs that they didn't like," her dad, Jim Siebenaler, said. 

On Sunday morning, at about 2:30 a.m., Sarah was again informed that a pair of lungs had arrived. She has O-positive blood, by far the most common type. That made it easier for a match than if she had a more rare type. But Sarah is small in stature, so surgeons also needed a set of lungs that would fit comfortably in her chest.

According to Sarah's Mayo Clinic online "CarePage," her family walked her down to the operating room at Saint Marys Hospital at about 7 a.m. on Sunday and waited for word on whether the transplant surgery could begin.

Here's the next note from her family on her CarePage:

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"After 145 days of waiting in the hospital, they have a matching set of lungs, and began surgery on Sarah at around 8:00 this morning. The procedure takes 4-8 hours and they expect it to be much closer to the 8-hour mark because of previous procedures that left significant scarring on the lining of her lung cavity."

The hospital staff was at shift change when Sarah went to the OR, so many of the nurses and others who have taken care of Sarah for the last four and a half months were there to see her off and wish her well.

"She waved to everyone as if she was on a parade float," her family said on her CarePage.

About 10 hours later, her family reported, Sarah was out of surgery and in recovery.

When I visited with Sarah and her father, Jim Siebanaler, in the hospital a week ago, I asked if it  looked impossible for her to make an appearance at the benefit that has been planned for her on Nov. 8 at the Rochester International Event Center.

"Well, it's getting close," Jim said.

But now, doctors expect to remove her from the ventilator later today or Tuesday, and she could be discharged to home care as early as Nov. 1.

I'll keep you posted on her progress periodically. In the meantime, readers can monitor her progress, through family updates, on Mayo's CarePage website at www.carepages.com. Search for "Saranwrap." Information on the benefit can be found at www.tsuke.org.

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Still time for best-governor nominations

Before I got word of Sarah Hackenmiller's transplant, I had been planning to do a column on the best Minnesota governors of the past half-century. That'll have to wait until Saturday. So, there's time to get me your nominations.

Just to refresh your Minnesota history … We've had 11 governors in the last 50 years (one who, like President Grover Cleveland, served two nonconsecutive terms). They are Orville Freeman (DFL), Elmer L. Andersen (R), Karl Rolvaag (DFL), Harold LeVander (R), Wendell Anderson (DFL), Rudy Perpich (DFL), Al Quie (R), Arne Carlson (R), Jesse Ventura (Independence Party), Tim Pawlenty (R) and current Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer.

I'll list my choices for the top three.

Green tomatoes galore!

Thanks to everyone who passed along recipes for unripened tomatoes, and for their methods for turning those green orbs red after I mentioned in a column a week ago that I still had dozens of green tomatoes in my garden.

I harvested them late last week and they're awaiting my attention. I plan to try green tomato salsa, green tomato jam\, and fried green tomatoes.

And I'm skeptical, but I'm going to try to ripen some of them, as a few readers have suggested, by wrapping them in newspaper, placing them in a cardboard box and putting them under my bed. If my wife will let me.

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Check out the green tomato recipes I have on the Sellnow's Journal blog at PostBulletin.com.

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