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UMD conditioning coach 'out of the penalty box' after successful liver transplant

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The strength and conditioning coach and equipment manager for the University of Minnesota Duluth's women's hockey team had a successful liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic Saturday afternoon.

Julianne “Montana” Vasichek, 32, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2002 and primary sclerosing cholangitis — an incurable disorder that affects the bile ducts in the liver — in 2007.

Last week her condition worsened and she was admitted to a Duluth hospital before eventually being airlifted to Rochester Thursday, where her condition was listed as critical.

In a post on her CaringBridge page, Vasichek's family says she's "out of the penalty box" and the transplant, which took several hours, went "as good as could be expected, and Julianne has a beautiful new liver that is already producing bile."

Vasichek isn't out of the woods yet. She is at greater risk for post-surgery infection – instead of a 5 percent chance, hers is more like 15-20 percent due to the nature of her surgeries, her family wrote.

She is still unconscious and her family says it may take up to a week for her to come back to consciousness after being sedated for so long.

In the post, her family also thanked everyone for the outpouring of love and support.

Vasichek, a native of Great Falls, Montana, won three national championships while playing for UMD from 2001-2005 and was a two-time All-American. While skating for the Bulldogs, she wore No. 49. The UMD women’s hockey team wore "49" stickers on their helmets in her honor in their weekend homestand against Bemidji State.

UMD's best-of-three series against Bemidji wraps up Sunday afternoon. The winner will go on to the WCHA Final Faceoff next weekend, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

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