Funeral for Katie Prager, lung transplant recipient, is Monday

Katie and Dalton Prager were married in 2011. Both had cystic fibrosis and had lung transplants that failed. Katie Prager’s funeral is Sunday.
Katie and Dalton Prager were married in 2011. Both had cystic fibrosis and had lung transplants that failed. Katie Prager’s funeral is Sunday.

Katie Prager, the Kentucky lung transplant recipient whose story with her late husband, Dalton, touched millions, has died.

Katie, 26, died early Thursday at her home in Flemingsburg, a family member said.

Katie and Dalton met online. Both had cystic fibrosis, and both had lung transplants that failed.

“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,” Katie’s mother, Debra Donovan, wrote Thursday morning on Facebook.

“I know it’s 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.”

Both Katie and Dalton had the Burkholderia cepacia infection, which limited the number of surgery centers specializing in their conditions. Dalton received his lung transplant in November 2014. Katie, after a lengthy bureaucratic snafu over insurance coverage, received her new lungs at the University of Pittsburgh medical center in July 2015.

But neither of the transplants were successful for long. Dalton Prager had pneumonia and had been on a ventilator. In his final days, he had been trying to get to Kentucky to see his wife one last time. The two married in 2011.

By the time Katie’s close-knit Fleming County family gave her a Christmas-in-September party on Saturday, she was underweight, her once-abundant blonde hair sparse, her color waxen. She had made a decision to discontinue all life-extending measures except for dialysis and had entered hospice care.

She was sleeping a great deal, using an oxygen tank and getting weaker by the day.

Dalton died Saturday, hours before the family gathering. His funeral was Wednesday in Saint Louis, where his family lives.

Katie had maintained a Facebook presence until just a few days before her death. On Sept. 8, she sent out a message to friends saying, “If you’d like to come and visit, please message my mom or me ... and we can arrange a time. I’d love to see anyone.”

On Sept. 10, she posted: “Letting God use me in whatever way he sees fit.”

During the Saturday Christmas party, Katie said that she believed in an afterlife and would see her husband again. At the family gathering in Ewing after Dalton’s death, Katie said, “I’ll see him soon.”

Visitation for Katie will be 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Elizaville Christian Church in Flemingsburg. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the church. Carpenter, Fritz & Vice Funeral Home in Flemingsburg is in charge of arrangements.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman