A young married couple, whose relationship has been compared to the novel and movie “The Fault In Our Stars, is fighting to be together as their love story comes to a tragic end.
Katie and Dalton Prager met online when they were both 18, bonding over their shared experiences fighting cystic fibrosis.
"If you ever need a friend to talk to, you can reach out to me," Katie, based in Ketucky, wrote to Dalton, who lived in Missouri, after reading that he was very sick, CNN reported.
They fell in love and despite the dangers that meeting each other held—Dalton had a dangerous and contagious infection called Burkholderia cepacia—they met.
"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 told CNN. "That was definitely something I had to think about, but when you have those feelings, you just know."
They married in 2011 when they were both 20.
Katie eventually contracted the infection, and the couple waited together for lung transplants at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"I don't really look at it as unfair," she told the news station. "Everybody has their own battles and God chose this battle for me."
Katie and Dalton, now 26 and 25, eventually received their transplants and planned to travel the country and write a book together when they recovered, but their plans were cut short when Katie’s transplant didn’t work.
“The past week has been very emotional and decisions have been made that aren't meant to be made by someone in their 20s with their whole life ahead of them,” Katie wrote on September 2 on a YouCaring page created to offset her funeral and end-of-life expenses.
Katie entered hospice at home. Her doctors say there’s nothing more that can be done.
“There are too many things going on in my body to be able to fix everything. Things appear to be going downhill faster than I thought they would,” Katie wrote.
It’s a race against time for Dalton as well, who is striving to be near his wife’s side but is currently at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis recovering fighting pneumonia and a virus.
“He is from MO, her KY. Neither have been able to completely live independently since transplant,” a loved one explained on Facebook.
"If we only get to spend a day and a night together, we'll be happy with that," Katie told CNN.
She thanked those who had been touched by hers and Dalton’s love story, writing on her YouCaring site: “I get to spend the rest of my time surrounded by people and things that make me happy. Please don't take this as a sign of me giving up. It's the last thing I want people to remember of me … God bless you all and thank you for going on this journey with me! Love, Katie.”