Double Transplantee Pens Best Selling Memoir on Her Triumph over CF
Anabel Mariko Stenzel and Isabel Yuriko Stenzel Byrnes are identical twins who were born in Los Angeles, California in 1972. At just three days old, the sisters received the life changing diagnosis of cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas. At that time, their doctor told their parents that they would be fortunate to reach their 10th birthdays.
For years, Anabel and Isabel’s lives revolved around struggling to maintain their health. This involved daily respiratory and digestive treatments, as well as long and frequent stays in the hospital. In their mid-20s, the twins’ health began to decline rapidly. Their passion for all that life has to offer held on, however, cystic fibrosis was relentless in its hold on them.
In one of the darkest times in their lives, Anabel and Isabel received the gift of a new life in the form of double lung transplants in 2000 and 2004, respectively. One of the world’s premiere cardiovascular surgeons, Dr. Bruce Reitz, performed the transplant surgeries that gave the sisters their new lungs and allowed them to thrive. “You have to know the reality but believe things will be okay. It’s not easy to do when you’re feeling miserable. But you have to have that gusto, that energy, that will. The doctors are there to help us and serve us, but we are the ones who need to initiate, to follow through” said Isabel.
Read on to learn more about Anabel and Isabel’s brave journey with cystic fibrosis.