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Giving Back What She's Been Given

It's a lesson we've heard many times. If you're handed lemons, make lemonade.

That can be easier said than done. But it's a motto one KELOLAND woman has had to follow her whole life. It's a motto she's now using to start her future in health care.

For the last six years, 24-year-old Kendra Gottsleben has been getting enzyme treatments at Sanford Children's once a week. She's been given so much by the nurses and staff there, and now she says she's finally able to give back.

We first introduced you to Kendra last fall as she continued her education at Augustana College and as she went through her weekly routine of getting enzyme treatments for a progressive degenerative condition.

“The broad term is mucopolysaccharidosis. And then I have type six,” Gottsleben said back in September.

It's hard to pronounce, and at times hard to live with, but it essentially means Kendra's cells build up with fatty tissue and her body doesn't produce an enzyme to clean the cells.

Without this enzyme treatment, she would have died.

“My heart could get worse. My eyes could get worse. My joints could get worse. It's just kind of stopping what could happen,” Gottsleben said.

Without her doctors and nurses at Sanford Children's, her life would be very different. That's why she's giving back.

“Now the Children's Hospital will be pretty much a part of my life forever,” Gottsleben said.

This month, Kendra has been working the ins and outs of a hospital that she calls her second home, as an intern for Children's Miracle Network.

“It's, you know, strange being in the hospital but not as a patient,” Gottsleben said.

When she graduates with a degree in sociology and psychology from Augustana next May, she hopes to make a career out of working with children in a hospital.

“I'd like to counsel or be a confidante. Help during very difficult situations,” Gottsleben said.

If anyone knows how to tackle a difficult situation, it's Kendra. At 3-feet, 2-inches tall her condition affects many of her organs, it narrows her airway, and it's the reason she stopped growing.

But it's not stopping her from giving.

“So I feel like with my experiences in a hospital setting that I can help them or children when they're having a tough time,” Gottsleben said.

Working with CMN, an organization that touches every child's life at Sanford Children's Hospital is gratifying for this young woman and is helping her reach a life long goal.

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Kelli Grant
Keloland Television