Statistics don't define twins Anabel Stenzel and Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, who were born with cystic fibrosis but are beating the odds at age 40. And yet there's a staggering statistic attached to their story, as described in a STANFORD magazine feature:
A genetic disease familiar in people of Northern European descent, CF is extremely rare in Asia. [Anabel and Isabel's] papa, Reiner Stenzel, a physicist, did the math: The odds of having half-Japanese identical twins with CF were about one in 1.8 billion.
After undergoing aggressive treatments during childhood, the two graduated from Stanford in 1994 and from graduate school at Berkeley, received three sets of transplant lungs between them, wrote a double memoir in 2007, inspired a documentary film, and currently work at Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Following near-death experiences, they continue to advocate - and serve as inspiration - for other CF patients:
Dr. David Weill, [MD,] director of Stanford Hospital's Center for Advanced Lung Disease and the Lung Transplant Program, describes the Stenzels as "mentors to a lot of people who are newly diagnosed with CF, have had transplants or are contemplating transplants and don't know what to expect." He met them six years ago and is part of the team that has cared for them at Stanford. "In all my years of doing transplants, I haven't met anyone with this level of commitment and vigor to live their lives like each day could be their last. That's what makes them such good ambassadors. They show the world what's possible."
Previously: Life-threatening diagnosis leads to powerful friendship for two California teens and Transplant patients organize a boot camp