The real-life ‘Fault In Our Stars’ couple’s love story has come to a tragic end.
Just five days after her husband Dalton Prager died of cystic fibrosis age 25, Katie Prager passed away from complications from the same disease.
The 26-year-old died in Kentucky on Thursday morning, surrounded by her mom Debbie, dad, brother, and dogs.
Their love story generated headlines as it echoed the story explored in the ‘Fault in Our Stars’ best-selling young-adult novel and 2014 movie starring Shailene Woodley.
Writing on Facebook on Thursday morning, mom Debbie wrote: “Dalton was waiting with open arms, as well as both her grandmother’s and a host of family and friends that have gone before her.
“I know it is 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.”
Katie and Dalton’s love story began when they met online in 2009.
Katie sent Dalton a Facebook message to share stories about their shared disease.
The pair instantly connected and were married in 2011.
Talking about their romance to PEOPLE Katie said: “I knew that there was a possibility that we would get sicker and something could happen.
“I just told Dalton I’d rather have somebody that I was totally in love with for five years, than be either lonely or not as happy with somebody for 20 years.”
Both were born with cystic fibrosis – a progressive genetic disease that affects primarily the lungs, and whose patients have a current average life expectancy of around 40 years.
Their health forced them to live in separate states.
Katie entered hospice care earlier this month at the couple’s Flemingsburg, Kentucky, home nearly 400 miles and eight hours away from her husband
Each battled an additional bacterial infection that transferred from Dalton to Katie and complicated their illness.
Dalton received a life-prolonging lung transplant in 2014.
Katie received her transplant several months later in 2015.
Sadly the two never fully recovered from their surgeries and both traveled to be near their respective families while their hoped-for recoveries continued.
“They were complete soul mates, and he couldn’t imagine life without her,” said Renee Prager, Dalton’s mother.
The couple had last seen each other briefly, for only a few minutes, in Katie’s Kentucky hospital room on July 16 – their fifth wedding anniversary.