My name is MacKenzie, I am a 24 year old from Boston Massachusetts. I try to live my life the most positive way possible, but behind that positivity is a life of hardship. My childhood memories, like most, are rather vague… but the astringent smell, lifeless bodies, and empty cold hallways are things that have stuck with me forever. I am the youngest daughter of three, and also the healthiest. I watched as my two older sisters struggled to survive, as my mother fought against cancer, all the while still tending to her sick daughters, and as my father walked out the door, unable to handle anymore of life’s struggles. As the attention was focused on illness, and the daunting absence of my father, how was I, the “healthy” one, expected to survive? This is a story to show my families struggles, the anger and hatred that grew inside of me from it all, and how I was able to find the path of positivity, despite all the factors that seemed to be against me.

       Both of my sisters were born with the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis (CF causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. It is a life-threatening disorder that has no cure) From the start, my life revolved around hospitals… My first memory was when I was five years old sitting in the hospital room with Lindsey, my oldest sister. I had a hospital mask strapped to my face, and I was playing with one of the beanie babies someone had given her as a ‘get better’ gift. 

     Lindsey had been incredibly ill ever since she was born. Always in and out of the hospital, and when she turned 15 she was told she had two weeks to live if she didn’t receive new lungs. Soon after the doctors broke that news to my family, Lindsey was in St. Louis undergoing a double lung transplant, and my parents were the ones donating (they made medical history as the first parents to ever donate lobes of lung to their child) It was thankfully a great success.

       Ashley was a little different when it came to her CF. While she obviously had health problems, she wasn’t constantly in and out of the hospital growing up, like Lindsey was. She was able to stay primarily out of the hospital until she reached the age of 15 (she is 3 years younger then Lindsey), and that is when the disease reeked havoc on her body. She was told by the doctors that, she to, was in desperate need of a double lung transplant, her current lungs had almost completely failed her. And with those words, my family took no hesitations, and Ashley was in California getting a double lung transplant. This time around, my two aunts were the donors (after Lindsey’s success at St.Louis hospital, few followed in her foot steps, the next living related transplants they performed… 13 didn’t make it) My parent’s found California to be the best option to complete the surgery during that time, as there stats ranked high, and the man performing the surgery was the first to perform the living related lobar transplant. 

           After both of their double lung transplants; both of my sisters acquired diabetes, and unfortunately both ended up needing new kidneys. Ashley needed her kidney transplant first, and was given a kidney by my aunt… and soon after, Lindsey’s kidney failed and she was given a kidney by another aunt (my aunt became the first woman in the world to donate two organs). 

         After both of their kidney transplants… things, health wise, had settled at the Dias residence… which was unheard of! Unfortunately, that sense of calmness didn’t last. 

        During the summer of 2012 my sister was in the hospital as she waited for her second double lung transplant. She was placed on the top of the list for a cadaveric transplant due to her rapidly declining health. For six long, and grueling months, she battled this evil, malicious disease with every part of her being. She took her last breathe on the fourteenth of June. I watched my sister inspire the world as she fought to survive, and then watched as the evil disease won the battle and the life drifted from her eyes.

        I didn’t have time to grieve over Ashley’s death, because shortly after, Lindsey was told she needed another kidney transplant. All of this news was hitting me like a ton of bricks; I walked down the hallway of the hospital, feeling as if I was in a nightmare. The walls were caving in, and every thing around me began to spin, just like that my legs gave out and I was curled up on the ground. I stayed on the ground with my eyes shut tight, arms clenched around my knees, expecting to be consumed by that awful rush of anger I had grown so accustomed too. As I slowly began opening my eyes, and releasing the tight grasp my arms formed around my body, I felt this sense of confusion. I wasn’t feeling that rush of anger, but instead I felt something new and unrecognizable. It was as if something inside of me clicked, and as dramatic as it may seem, ultimately changed my whole perspective on life.

        Despite my hardships, I live life with the most optimistic outlook as possible. This new positivity was euphoric. Everything I was repeating in my head seemed so cliché, the whole ‘you only live once’ mindset. As cliché as it may sound, it is the way everyone should experience life. I saw life taken from this earth far too early, I’ve seen and dealt with things that most people won’t have to deal with in their entire lifetime, but I came out on the other end. I want to show people that, although it seems easy to find so much sadness in this world, it is just as easy to encounter the happiness. I want to teach people to take each of their hardships and use them as motivators to conquer anything else life may have in store.

         I was also was approved to be Lindsey’s kidney donor, and I donated to her on January 7th 2014. Unfortunately, Lindsey unexpectedly passed away on September 14th, 2015.

       My life is hectic, but I think my families story can save lives, and that is why I continue tokeep everyone in the loop with what is going on. 

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