Even to the casual observer, Victoria Chakwin, with hair the color of a tropical sunset, lip piercings and a “not traditional” black and red dress, probably will stand out Saturday at the Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School senior prom.
But what truly makes the 18-year-old remarkable can be seen only on a CT scan. Transplant surgeon Bartley Griffith describes them as her “lovely lungs,” a gift from an unknown donor that made it possible for Chakwin to join her classmates at prom and make plans for the next stage in her life.
Only three months ago, Chakwin was near death. For a third of her life, she’d been battling pulmonary fibrosis, a disease marked by scarring in the lungs that literally took her breath away. Doctors don’t know what caused Victoria’s illness.