Katie Prager met her husband, Dalton Prager, on Facebook after learning they both shared the same terminal lung disease, cystic fibrosis. They were 18 at the time.
They got married two years later in 2011, becoming a real-life version of the young cancer patients at the center of the popular novel-turned-movie “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Katie, 26, died Thursday from complications of cystic fibrosis. She passed away just five days after Dalton, 25, died from the same thing.
“I truly believe Dalton had prepared a place for his wife, just as the pastor talked about yesterday at Dalton’s service,” his mother, Renee Prager, wrote on the couple's Facebook transplant page.
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Katie and Dalton hated to be apart, even if that meant catching each other's respiratory infections. They were in and out of hospitals and, ultimately, both received lung transplants that failed to improve their health.
Dalton had his procedure in November 2014, but he was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after. He overcame the cancer, but developed pneumonia that left him hospitalized in St. Louis.
His family was trying to reunite him with Katie, who was receiving hospice care in her Kentucky home, when he passed away. He died Saturday while speaking with his wife on Facetime.
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Katie received her transplant in July 2015, but the procedure failed to take. Her mother, Debra Donovan, announced news of her death Thursday on Facebook.
“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,” she wrote.
“I know Dalton was waiting with open arms, as well as both her grandmother's and a host of family and friends that have gone before her. I know it is selfish to be sad, I had her so many days, but she is in the arms of Jesus today and she can breathe without oxygen, she no longer has to do dialysis and He has taken away all the pain she endured.”
“One important thing I have taken away from this is to live, just live... something you want to do, don't wait. Life is short, love as hard as you can,” Katie's mother wrote on Facebook.
“Katie knew how much she was loved. She knew how much I loved her, I told her and showed her everyday,” she said. “We were given a great gift, we knew her time was short and she was able to do a few things that she wanted, and I am grateful for that. The days to follow will not be easy but I find comfort in knowing that my girl lived, she really lived.”