Help Dalton and Katie Breathe

For: Dalton and Katie Prager
Organizer: Prager Trust Fund/ Debra Donovan
$78,835
of $100,000 goal
78% Complete
Raised by 992 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

I am reaching out to you for help for my wife Katie Prager, she is 24 years old and the love of my life.  She has a heart of gold and helps anyone in need, no matter the cost.
 
Unfortunately, I need anyone and everyone to help me spread our story nationwide; to gain the attention and financial support needed to save her life.
 
Both my wife and I have Cystic Fibrosis.  For those that don’t know, the average age for someone that makes it to adulthood is 37 years old. Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic illness that produces thick mucus in the body, especially in the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. Most CF patients end up getting a lung transplant to stay alive.
 
Katie and I met in August of 2009 through mutual CF friends over facebook. She had seen where I was in the hospital and messaged me to make sure I was okay. There aren't too many people like her! After that message we never stopped talking. I am sure many people thought we moved too fast, however we didn't feel those rules applied to us. Living with a chronic illness forces you to grow up faster than anyone should, so we knew time wasn't in our favor. After a month of talking on the phone, we decided to meet in person and that's where our love story began.
 
In September 2009, Katie was diagnosed with an infection in her lungs called Burkholderia Cepacia. This diagnosis led her life into a downward spiral forcing her to spend more time in the hospital. In January 2010, Katie moved to Missouri to go to school and so we could live closer to one another. Again, not wasting time, Katie and I became engaged in February, 2010. We were both on cloud 9 and were ready to move forward with our lives together. Sadly, with each subsequent doctor visit, both of our health steadily declined. Finally, on July 16, 2011, Katie and I became husband and wife, surrounded by our families, friends, and our puppy Marley. 
 
In May 2012, we moved to Kentucky to be closer to Katie's family. We took our CF care to UK Clinic. We were told that because we both had Cepacia, if it came down to it, we wouldn't be able to get lung transplants there because of our Cepacia diagnosis. The situation surrounding our health kept getting worse as each day went by and we were ultimately forced to quit work just to focus on taking care of ourselves. We transferred our care to the University of Cincinnati and were told that they couldn't help us there either. In February 2013, we were both put on oxygen full time and started pulmonary rehab. After both of us were put on oxygen, we knew something had to change. It's not fun being 22 and needing oxygen to live your daily life.
 
There are only two places in the U.S that will transplant Cepacia patients, the University of Pittsburgh and Duke. In April 2013, together we began our evaluation to see if we were candidates for lung transplants.  After two long months we had both been approved to put on the transplant list. The next several months proved to be very difficult. Our dependence on oxygen increased as our quality of life decreased.  In August 2014, we were admitted to UPMC for what would prove to be our longest stay to date.  After waiting way too long, I got the call for new lungs on November 16, 2014! I had made it by the skin of my teeth, but I made it nonetheless.  When I woke up, Katie wasn’t there. She couldn’t be. And she still isn't. Since I have to take immunosuppressant medication, we won’t be able to be anywhere near one another until she can get a lung transplant too. We can only communicate through phones or computers.  While I have been growing stronger, Katie has been met with not only round the clock IV medications; hospital visits, growing weak and sicker but insurance red tape and bureaucracy.
 
On December 6, Katie was discharged from the hospital and returned to Kentucky.  Within 3 days she started feeling bad again, but was told she couldn't return to UPMC because Medicare would not pay.  She was told that she had used her lifetime maximum and it would only reset if she could be out of the hospital for 60 consecutive days.  Sixty days out of the hospital is not an option for her anymore.  Medicaid is also not an option as it will not cover her transplant due to UPMC being "out of network".  After explaining to Medicaid and Pittsburgh that there are only two places in the country, who would operate, due to Cepacia, (UPMC and Duke), they still refused to work together to help her.  She is struggling to attempt to negotiate her healthcare options from her hospital bed at the University of Kentucky.
 
A few weeks ago, I was finally discharged from UPMC with my new lungs and new life! This was a bitter sweet day for me.  Katie should have been able to be there with me! Instead she is being told by hospitals and insurance companies that she is wasting her energy working on funding her own transplant. The only way she will get to leave UK’s Hospital is to go home with no answers and unsure if she will make it to her next doctor’s appointment or somehow, by some miracle, Pittsburgh and the insurance company will decide to help her.
 
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!  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!
 
Thank you,
 
Dalton Prager

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on July 11, 2015

Posted on July 11, 2015

I have so many thank you's to hand out...I want to thank everyone who said prayers, called, messaged, sent a card or letter or just gave a passing thought to Katie and I, it has meant the world to us both. I have so many emotions going through my mind; I feel so happy that my child, Katie, has received the gift of life from a total stranger but on the other hand, it is hard to be happy knowing that today their family is planning a funeral and getting ready to say good bye to the one they love. There are so many thoughts going on in my head but it is hard to put them into words that would make any sense...just know that when I am able to, I am going to lay my hand on Katie's chest and feel it go up and down with every breath and thank God and that family for giving Katie a second chance. Now, to update how Katie is doing--today, Katie was awake and alert, she is still on the ventilator. The surgeons left her chest open to let the swelling go down, the plan is for them to take her back to the OR tomorrow to wash out her chest cavity and (possibly) close her chest. When her chest is closed, they will begin getting Katie up and into a chair. I will let you know tomorrow how the surgery goes, they didn't have a time for it to start but said it would probably take a couple of hours. --Debbie (Katie Mom)

Posted on April 21, 2015

Posted on April 21, 2015

I am so excited to share this update with each of you!

At around noon yesterday Katie left the UK Hospital and was transferred to UPMC!  Although we still have a long way to go the things that follow now are in God's hands.  The next steps for Katie are to be evaluated and approved to be put back on the transplant list.  Next we will be waiting gets that call for her new lungs.   Katie and her family are taking each of these steps one day at a time. 

We hope you will continue to follow her story and push her donation site so that when she walks out of that hospital a healthy young lady she will have a few less financial worries. 

www.youcaring.com/dkprager

Thank you again for all you have done and are doing to help Katie breathe again!

Posted on April 9, 2015

Posted on April 9, 2015

WOW! We are amazed at the generosity of so many of our friends, family, doctors, nurses, and people who have never met us. When we started this outreach three weeks ago we were told we needed to start planning on funding a transplant without insurance. We were also told this would only happen by gaining national attention as the amount of money we would need was around one million dollars. So we opened our you caring page at $50k, now that we have reached this goal we hope to continue to get closer to what we really need to get on the other side of our transplants. If and WHEN our insurance issues are resolved this will pay for a substantial part of that million dollar surgery. However, we are still looking at a portion of that amount for my transplant, living expenses to rent an apartment for at least 3 month in Pittsburgh, and extremely expensive post transplant medicine and procedures. All of this times two people. We are overwhelmed by the love and support we have been shown and we can't thank you enough for helping us to keep that hope that we will live happily TOGETHER again and most importantly will be healthy as well!

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