Thrive by IU Health

April 04, 2024

Cubs, Swift fan received multi-organ transplant

IU Health University Hospital

Cubs, Swift fan received multi-organ transplant

She came to IU Health from her home nearly four hours away for a chance at renewed health.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

It’s baseball season. It’s also one of the few times Rebekah Dunn has missed watching a Chicago Cubs game because she was a patient at IU Health.

At 24, Dunn is a big Cubs fan, and she loves Taylor Swift. She was also a college student studying nursing.

On the surface, Dunn appears to be a typical adult starting her life of independence. But what brought her to IU Health was somewhat of an anomaly.

It took many appointments with specialists before Dunn was diagnosed with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO), a rare, severe and disabling gastrointestinal disorder.

“She was getting sick a lot in fifth grade and it was hard to find a doctor who understood and would listen,” said her mother, Allison Dunn. For half of her life, Rebekah could not eat. She missed going out with friends to her favorite restaurants and family holidays - generally planned around a big meal - were not part of her young memories.

She was treated at another hospital and eventually told she needed a transplant. In 2018, Dunn traveled from her home in Buffalo Grove, Ill. to Indianapolis. It was during her spring break from Bradley University where she was studying nursing.

“We met Dr. Mangus and he connected with her. He had children and saw her as a person and we trusted him,” said Allison Dunn. Dr. Richard Mangus is Director of Intestine Transplantation and Surgical Director, Pediatric Liver Transplantation at IU Health.

IU Health began its Intestine/Multivisceral (MVT) Transplant Program in 2003. Adults and children who need an intestine transplant or MVT (intestine combined with two or more abdominal organs) benefit from a multidisciplinary team that determines the best treatment.

“Dr. Mangus wanted Rebekah to finish nursing school before scheduling the transplant but her health continued to decline. Last year she was hospitalized more than she was home,” said her mom. In addition to CIPO, Rebekah learned through genetic testing that she has Noonan syndrome, which could also attribute to her gastrointestinal issues.

“I was sick my whole life and I chose nursing because I wanted to help other people. I know my health has to come first,” said Rebekah.

April is National Donate Life Month, a time to recognize the need and importance of eye, organ and tissue donation. Donate Life reports more than 100,000 patients are waiting for life-saving transplants and more than 170 million people have registered to become organ donors through

On Dec. 18, 2023, during an hours-long surgery Rebekah received a new stomach, small and large intestine, liver and pancreas.

At the end of March 2024, IU Health performed 134 pediatric and adult transplants including heart, kidney, pancreas, liver, lung and intestine. IU Health’s Transplant program is not only nationally known by the number of patients served, but also by the team members in the program. Patients come from across the country and even outside the United States. In addition to qualified nurses, the team includes surgeons, physicians, social workers, transplant coordinators, financial navigators, procurement specialists, and other staff members dedicated to excellent clinical care.

Rebekah and her mother will remain in Indianapolis for several months where she can be close to her care team. They are staying at Fair Haven, providing comfortable and convenient housing close to the hospital, at no cost to patients and their families.

While she recovers, she is missing her dad, Jeff and younger sister. She’s also enjoying exploring the local restaurant scene where she can eat some of her favorite foods that she’s missed for years including Thai, Italian, and Chinese. Her mom documents every meal with a video to send back home to Rebekah’s dad.

Rebekah Dunn multivisceral transplant

At a young age Rebekah became a diehard Chicago Cubs. Her mom said she’s also watched every Chicago Bears game and can name every player.

And she’s such a big fan of Taylor Swift that she will attend two sold-out performances in Indianapolis in November.

“I’m eager to get back home to my friends and I do hope to get back into nursing but right now I just need to get through the ups and downs of transplant,” said Rebekah. “The nurses on transplant - the whole team has been amazing,” said her mom. “Dr. Mangus is so good about listening. You just see the wheels turning whenever we talk to him. We know we can trust him and he’ll do whatever he can to make this a success story.”

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