As the end approached, Katie Prager spoke with her husband from afar, unable to be with him.
Dalton Prager, the real-life husband “Fault in our stars” couple, died Saturday afternoon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis at the age of 25, his parents told CNN.
Katie was in palliative care in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, when her husband died.
The FaceTimed couple as Dalton was dying, said Debra Donovan, Katie’s mother. “She told him she loved him,” Donovan said. “We do not know if he heard.”
“Dalton fought a long and hard battle with cystic fibrosis,” Katie posted on Facebook. “It was a brave fighter and ‘give’ was not in his vocabulary.”
Dalton had been in the intensive care unit on a ventilator for about two weeks before he died.
Just last week, the family had hoped to have a medical transport company flies Dalton Missouri to a hospital in Kentucky. They wanted to recover there, and then drive to his home, where Katie is receiving palliative care.
But in the end, Dalton was never healthy enough to travel to Kentucky. They were never able to gather for a final kiss.
The last time Katie and Dalton were was on July 16, their fifth wedding anniversary.
Katie and romance online Dalton began when both were 18 years old.
He started to fall in love as communicated on Facebook, but they knew it would be dangerous to meet in person for Katie.
Dalton had Burkholderia cepacia, a highly contagious infection for people with cystic fibrosis. Katie did not.
His doctors warned him not to meet other CF patients, for fear of contracting the bacteria. Still, Katie asked Dalton to visit in Kentucky.
“I told Dalton’d rather be happy – and very, very happy – for five years of my life and die before it is happy mediocre and live for 20 years,” Katie said earlier. “That was definitely something I had to think, but when you have those feelings, you just know.”
Two years later, in 2011, Dalton and Katie were married. Both were 20 years old.
Katie made contract Burkholderia cepacia, and the husband and wife waited for transplants at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dalton came first, the November 17, 2014, and was successful. In July 2015, after a long fight against Medicare, Medicaid and hospital, Katie got her transplant, too.
But his medical struggles continued. Dalton seemed to do well at first after his transplant, but then developed lymphoma. He beat cancer, but recently was hospitalized with pneumonia and a viral infection.
Katie transplant never worked well. She was in and out of the hospital and doctors earlier this month he said there was nothing else they could do.
Now there are reports of Dalton, a friend to everyone who loved to cook, travel and go antiquing. He dressed sharply, and enjoyed spending time outside in nature.
Katie fell for his intelligence, his good looks and charming personality. Days after start talking online, I knew that she would marry him. No one had been felt that way before, she said – as if it were the only girl in the world.
“It was one of the nicest people I had ever known and not many people like Dalton come around you have to get it while you can,” Katie, now 26, said.
Dalton’s funeral will be Wednesday in Missouri, where his family lives. A GoFundMe page was created to fill the remaining Dalton medical expenses and funeral expenses.
The day before Dalton died, Katie told CNN he has no regrets about his decision to meet in person. For all sick or in the hospital time, which is the time they spent together that stands out to her.
“He gave me some of the best years of my life,” he said. “I’d rather have five years of being in love and really completely happy 20 years of not having anyone.”