CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A singer known internationally who received two sets of transplanted lungs at the Cleveland Clinic over the course of her short life has died at the age of 35, according to her family.
Charity Tillemann-Dick never thought she would be able to continue pursuing her dreams of becoming a best-selling opera singer because of a rare and incurable lung disease diagnosis in 2004 at 20 years old.
Her visit to the Cleveland Clinic in 2008 changed that outlook.
The disease is devastating to any patient, but especially for an opera singer who relies on her lungs as her instrument.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic performed two separate double-lung transplants on Tillemann-Dick. The first transplant operation, defined by the doctor as one of “his most challenging surgeries,” took place in 2009.
The second was performed approximately three years later in 2012 when her health deteriorated due to the body’s rejection of the transplanted organs.
The lungs transplanted during the second surgery were not rejected that time, but Tilleman-Dick was since treated for cancerous tumors that developed in a gland near her jaw.
Tilleman-Dick, who was often referred to as “Charity Sunshine," passed away Wednesday morning “with her husband, mother, and siblings at her side and sunshine on her face,” according to the post on her Facebook.