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After five and a half years, a Northwest Iowa woman receives a double transplant

Janelle Clausen at her home in Danbury, IA

Janelle Kluver Clausen loves her community of Danbury.

In fact, she's got a whole garden of pumpkins ready to give away to local kids.

"Yesterday, Danbury Catholic Schools students were up here in the garden picking their pumpkins. Every year they come up here," said Clausen.

Giving back and sharing with others have always been her passion.

But in 2011, her entire life took another path when heart problems she'd struggled with her entire life relapsed.

"The pain was very, very, very painful," she described, which also led her to suffer from dizziness and fatigue.

So she visited a Sioux City hospital and was later admitted for a couple days in Omaha but even then, she didn't feel right.

"It just felt like a warmth that goes through your whole body like is this really happening to me?" said Clausen.

Finally in January 2012, after a series of tests, doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, diagnosed her with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, which is a rare heart disease that decreases the heart's ability to pump blood properly.

"I was shocked because you know, I felt okay. I felt fine. From the outside, but yet in the inside, it was there and things were not getting better. And as the years went on, it got worse," said Clausen.

Doctors took action, putting her on the transplant list for a heart and liver.

Years passed, Janelle waited and wondered when she would finally be a recipient.

"But it was kind of a shock to me because I didn't think it would go that far into the health," said Clausen.

Finally, after five and a half years, this June she received the life-saving call that literally made her heart skip a beat.

The same night she received the call, she and her husband Mark drove up to Rochester for surgery the following day.

And on June 19th, doctors gave her a new, beating heart and a liver.

"I feel a lot more energized, actually a whole lot more," said Clausen.

At that point, she moved to intensive care for eleven days before being spending two months at a rehab facility and was finally allowed to go home September 15th. And now she wants to celebrate her victory with every person she meets, reminding them to appreciate the gift of life.

"Since I've got a new heart a liver, I want to tell everybody out there that they're struggling with issues, hang in there. Don't give up. Because God will give you what you want someday. He will be there. It might not be as quick as we want but he will give you your gift," said Clausen.

Her family is hosting a special fundraiser to help pay for her medical bills.

The community is invited to attend Sunday, October 22nd from noon to 4 pm at the St. Mary's Parish Center in Danbury, IA.

There will be a pork loin sandwich lunch, bake sale and live auction, plus live music.

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