September 01 2010

Valerie Batz

“I have lived well, have been blessed to be able to travel the world, and have lived to enjoy my family. I am content with where my life has taken me.”

My name is Valerie Batz and I have cystic fibrosis. I was born in 1959 in New Hampshire and was diagnosed with CF at 22 months old. The doctors told my parents that I would most likely never live to attend elementary school.  In spite of this news, my parents did not treat me differently. My older brother had already been diagnosed with CF, so they had already developed a routine. In my house, we treated our medications and treatments as though they were habit – similar to taking your vitamins daily. Beyond remaining medically compliant, I also stayed active by being a member of the cheer squad and sailing, skiing, and swimming with my family. Eventually I was able to pass my lifeguard class even though my doctor told me that I would not be able. Aside from coughing and the occasional stomach ache, I led a normal childhood.

After graduating high school, I attended the University of Illinois as an international business major where I learned to speak both French and Spanish and was fortunate enough to study abroad in Paris. CF never held me back from my dreams.

I have been married to my wonderful husband, Jay, for 24 years and we have twin sons in their 20s, neither of whom have CF. My children changed my goals completely – I once dreamed of traveling the world but now just want to live long enough to see my children get married and meet my grandchildren.

When I turned 40, my health took a turn for the worse and I had to quit working. I had 30% lung function, weighed less than 100 pounds, was on full time oxygen, and had to have a feeding tube. I was able to get on the transplant list and am thankful every day that the doctors were able to find a match for me. Life post-transplant has truly been a blessing. I no longer cough and have two beautiful new lungs. I now enjoy sharing my optimism by guest speaking and promoting organ donation. I have lived well and am happy to be sharing my story and my life with others.
Favorite holiday: Transplant anniversary (Rebirth Day!)
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite past time: Reading
Favorite color: Burgundy
One word to describe you: Spirited
Hobbies: Love to sew and cook