Teeth brushed and lipstick on? Check. Doris Diaz’s lifelong battles with severe cystic fibrosis, which included needing oxygen 24/7 — haven’t kept her from becoming a legend in her elementary school in Menlo Park. She is also known as “The Lipstick Girl” — as she never leaves the house without a layer of her favorite gloss. After her double lung transplant on June 4, 9-year-old Doris is able to take deep breaths for the first time in her life.
Doris will never forget June 3, the day that she received the call from pulmonologist Carlos Milla, MD: A set of donor lungs became available, only two weeks before her 9th birthday on June 18. “I was praying to get a lung transplant before my birthday. When I got the call, I was crying and scared and happy all together,” Doris said, who waited for a year for this life-saving gift of organ donation.
Prior to her transplant on June 4 — performed by surgeon Katsuhide Maeda, MD, — Doris’ life was characterized by countless bouts of lung infections, pneumonia, chronic coughing, and dozens of visits to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, which is home to the No. 1 pediatric pulmonology program on the West Coast. Milla once described her as, “one of the most severe patients I have ever cared for.” Taking a deep breath was impossible — she even needed a BiPap machine to breathe at night.
Now equipped with new lungs, Doris, with the help of her mom Corina, is juggling post-transplant clinic appointments, taking upwards of 16 different medications per day — which include medications to prevent rejection — and making plans to run and play on the beach in Santa Cruz with her dog Spongy and 13-year-old sister Erika. She hopes to one day run on the beach with 6-year-old brother David, who also has cystic fibrosis. Doris and her family stay strong through their struggles with an unwavering faith and the advanced care of the only pediatric hospital in the West to perform lung transplants.
Milla is excited for Doris, who he said “cruised” through her difficult weeks post-transplant: “She has made a lot of progress,” he said.
What’s next for the Lipstick Girl? A trip to El Salvador to visit family? Achieving her lifelong dream of being famous? The sky is the limit, but one item she won’t forget on her adventures — her entire kit of pink lipstick.
- Winter Johnson
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