Katie and Dalton Prager have had quite the romance. Reminiscent of John Green’s Fault in Our Stars, the couple, who got married five years ago, had cystic fibrosis. They met on Facebook in 2009 and were able to find love despite the constant challenges in their lives. Unfortunately, Dalton passed away Saturday afternoon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis due to complications stemming from his illness. After recently receiving a lung transplant, Dalton was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was only 25.
Katie was confined to hospice care at her home in Kentucky while her husband was in St. Louis. Before he passed, the two Facetimed to say their goodbyes.
“My best friend, the true love of my life, and my inspiration is gone,” Katie wrote on Facebook Sunday. “How did this happen? How is my husband not here anymore? I love you Dalton forever and always.”
Two weeks prior to Dalton’s death, he was placed in an intensive care unit and hooked up to a ventilator. Katie’s family originally proposed that he fly to Kentucky and recoup there, but he was too sick to travel. The last time they saw each other was on their fifth wedding anniversary, July 16.
Along with cystic fibrosis, Katie has an infection called Burkholderia cepacia, a dangerous bacteria known to have adverse affects on lungs. Despite treatment, the infection is likely to turn fatal, but Katie remains strong. Doctors warned her not come into contact with other cystic fibrosis patients in fear that she would contact the bacteria, but nothing could keep her away from Dalton. The two carried out a courtship on Facebook, then married in 2011 at the age of 20.
“I told Dalton I’d rather be happy — like really, really happy — for five years of my life and die sooner than be mediocre happy and live for 20 years,” Katie explained. “That was definitely something I had to think about, but when you have those feelings, you just know.”
The couple first gained media attention a few years ago, when Dalton pleaded with generous strangers to help his wife. She needed a life-saving lung transplant and only one hospital was able to provide her with proper care. However, it was out of network and neither Medicare nor Medicaid were willing to cover the expenses.
“They are turning my wife into a number, a statistic, a dollar sign. I cannot lose her. This can’t be the end of our love story,” he said in a video. “We are both ready to continue fighting but at this point we are running out of options and need your help. Please help me save my wife Katie.”
Eventually the hospital received a limited permit to take her case, and she was given the transplant last summer. Sadly it failed and doctors were unable to help her further. She has been in hospice care in Kentucky since early September.
“Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” Katie told the Lexington Herald-Leader earlier this month. “I just want to pass natural.”
She has also started a campaign at YouCaring to help pay for her “celebration of life” after she has passed. It has well surpassed her original goal of $10,000.
“I just want everybody to have fun and not worry,” Prager said. “I just want to have enough money that my parents don’t have to worry after I’m gone.”
But Katie’s prime concern was her husband. She loved him so much that she briefly removed her name from the lung transplant list so he could get his new lungs first. “He meant everything to me,” she said during a recent interview. “I’ll see him soon.”
RIP Dalton Prager. Excuse me while I cry my body weight in tears.
Katie Prager passed away Thursday morning from complications with cystic fibrosis.
“Early this morning, she gained her wish of being at home, in her bed, surrounded by her mom, dad, brother and her dogs, dying peacefully, away from the hospital, tubes, IVs,” her mother, Debra Donovan,posted on Facebook. “The days to follow will not be easy but I find comfort in knowing that my girl lived, she really lived.”
[H/T: Daily Mail]