Tiffany Senter won't let cystic fibrosis and multiple lung transplants stand in the way of her dream
Cystic fibrosis is a chronic genetic disease that causes sticky fluid to build up in the organs including the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine
A woman who has cystic fibrosis and has had two double lung transplants by the age of 25 is not letting her condition from living her life to the full.
Twenty five-year-old Tiffany Senter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was only 7 days old. Cystic fibrosis is a chronic genetic disease that causes sticky fluid to build up in the organs including the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine. The most devastating effects of the disease, however, are felt in the lungs which ends up drowning in mucus.
The Daily Mail reported that Tiffany found out she was dying when she was only 16 years old. She had her first lung transplant at age 17, which saved her life, but only four years later, her body rejected the new lungs. Tiffany was able to get another chance when she received a second pair of donor lungs when she was 23.
It seems to be working for the time being but she still needs to spend a lot of time at the hospital.
The disease has affected her other organs as well and this means that she is vulnerable to infections that could end up being fatal.
Tiffany hasn't let her situation get her down and she has been able to keep her spirits up with help from her idol, Marilyn Monroe, by doing her hair and makeup like the late star from her hospital bed.
Tiffany looks up to the two organ donors whose lungs have been able to keep her alive till date.
The doctors have already told her that they will not be able to give her another pair of lungs so she holds onto hope that what she has now will last.
It was clear for the doctors that the young woman had a severe case of cystic fibrosis the moment she was born. The doctors had initially advised her parents to take their newborn daughter home and, according to what Tiffany told The Sun, they told the parents that they wouldn't have much time to spend with her.
But her parents, however, saw no reason to give up on Tiffany and the now 25-year-old also decided she was going to fight.
Until Tiffany was 14-years-old, she even went to school but her condition kept getting worse and her lungs got weaker. That's when she stopped going to school because it could have been too dangerous to be around children whose common colds could have been life-threatening for her.
By the age of 16, things were pretty grim. She was taken to the Stanford University's hospital where she was told that a lung transplant was her only shot at survival.
She had to wait for nine months before donor lungs were available. Her own lungs were, at that point, only working at 20 per cent capacity. The doctors removed the lungs, which had become almost black and contorted with the disease, and replaced them with the donor's. The lungs had come from a young man who had died in a tragic accident. The donor's organs were able to save eight people in all, including Tiffany.
Her lungs were now working at 93% capacity and for four years after the surgery, Tiffany was able to live the life of adventure that she had wanted to. Then, her body rejected the organs. Tiffany was back at the Stanford University hospital and back on the transplant list where she had to wait another nine months, out of which the last three were spent on a hospital bed with a breathing machine and a feeding tube 24 hours a day.
While she was at the hospital waiting for her new lungs, she stumbled across a makeup tutorial on YouTube.
Tiffany told the Daily Mail: "I felt like I looked like I was going to die, and those videos inspired me to see you can transform how you look on the outside. My motto is: 'If you look good, you feel good'."
She started creating her Marilyn Monroe-inspired looks shortly after seeing the videos online. By that time, the failing lungs were replaced with a new set in 2017.
Tiffany said: "But when I had the first transplant, the other organs took a hit. Thankfully I was able to have a healthy enough kidney and liver to do it again, but my kidneys have taken a hit."
A year-and-a-half after the second transplant, her lungs started the first stages of rejection. She was diagnosed with chronic organ rejection, which means that even the strongest medications she took to suppress her immune system could not stop her body from thinking the new set of lungs were a foreign object and attacking them.
Her body has been left too traumatized and weak for a third transplant. Tiffany said that even if she had one, "My sternum is already wired shut and clipped. There's really no room for them to operate and my chances of survival would be so low".
Her kidney's failed three times in the past year and her lungs are only functioning at 60 per cent capacity but that seems to be enough for now as long as her medication, which is 70 pills at the start of her day, keeps her stable.
Tiffany has now transformed her bedroom into a makeup studio and she plans to get her cosmetology and business licenses so that her clients can come to her.
She still lifts weights, goes rock climbing with her brother, and regularly goes on hikes with her entire family.
Tiffany said: "I have gotten seven-plus years because of my donors, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. I feel very lucky to have had the time I have."
The young woman feels strongly for the causes of both cystic fibrosis and organ donation. She has even started a fundraising campaign for the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA), which is an organization that "helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support."