UNOS celebrates the life of Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, a lung recipient who, with her twin sister Anabel, became a voice for patients and a passionate advocate for donation and transplant.
Isabel and Anabel were both born with cystic fibrosis in 1972. Not expected to live past childhood, instead, Isabel said, “we helped keep each other alive.” As adults, both received lung transplants, and the sisters wrote a book about their life together, The Power of Two, which later was developed into a documentary. This spring, Isabel spoke with National Public Radio on how to say goodbye to someone you love, drawing from her professional expertise as well as from personal loss; her sister Anabel died in 2013.
Isabel formerly served as a volunteer member of the OPTN Patient Affairs and Ethics committees. She was an enthusiastic competitor at the Transplant Games of America, a patient advocate, and a licensed clinical social worker. Recently, she celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with her husband, Andrew.
She spoke often of her gratitude for her donor, Xavier. “To have this whole other life,” she said, “was truly remarkable.”