Turnquist undergoes heart transplant

Friday, August 7, 2020

In the past week, Laura Turnquist of Alta has been strong enough to exchange waves to her family through a window at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She had a successful heart transplant on July 30th.

“She’s doing really good,” Katie Morris, one of her daughters, said. “She’s standing up, and she got to wave to us from outside.” However, she is very weak, Katie added.

Laura, 53, has had a heart condition since she was a teenager, and recent events moved rapidly. She was told on July 2nd that she needed a transplant. Typically, it takes up to three months to receive a donated heart, but when she was undergoing preliminary procedures in Rochester and she was ready, a heart was received in six days, Katie said.

Katie recounted the experience by writing a journal entry on caringbridge.org. After the more than four-hour operation, “The doctor met our dad to tell him that she’s doing great, the surgery was a success, and the heart was very good,” she said.

Laura’s husband, David, is a farmer and was a part-time coach in Alta-Aurelia schools until last year. “Thankfully, our dad gets to be by our mom’s side right now. Us girls wish we could be there with them, but because of COVID, they are strictly limiting visitors,” Katie said.

Family members, including Katie’s sister, Lesa, agree that things moved quickly. “Seems fast but also seems to creep by,” David said of the experience.

Katie continued with her journal entry. “Although there could be more hurdles (rejection mainly and bleeding), he assured our dad that the transplant operation was the biggest hurdle yet.” After surgery, Laura was intentionally kept asleep for 24 hours to not stress the new heart, Katie said.

“We are extremely overjoyed that everything has gone smoothly, but the process is not over yet,” Katie said. “Prayers are still needed more than ever for the acceptance of her new heart and long-term recovery. Our mom will spend the next two weeks in the hospital and another three months after that in the transplant house, all at Mayo in Rochester.”

Laura is well-known locally as her profession is librarian where she worked in the Storm Lake schools and Alta Community Library.

For anyone who would like to assist the Turnquist family with funding of medical costs, you can visit https://gofundme.com/f/laura039s-new-heart to make a donation.