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Subject: Laura Rothenberg, Author of Cystic Fibrosis Diary

died March 20
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Date Posted: March 24, 2003 2:47:12 EDT

Laura Rothenberg, who recorded an audio diary for National Public Radio that documented her daily life as she struggled with cystic fibrosis, died Thursday night at her apartment in Manhattan. She was 22.

The cause was chronic rejection of a lung transplant, complicated by infection, said her father, Jon.

Many people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the organs, mainly in the lungs and pancreas, die in young adulthood. Ms. Rothenberg, a junior majoring in English at Brown University liked to say that she had already had her midlife crisis.

Her audio diary, "My So-Called Lungs," recorded over two years, was broadcast on N.P.R.'s "All Things Considered" in August 2002 as part of a continuing documentary series called "Radio Diaries." In her recordings, she describes her decision to undergo a lung transplant in July 2001 and the many health problems that followed pneumonia, lymphoma, diabetes, a broken hip.

She also talks about a surprise "lung retirement party" given by her friends before she left Brown for her transplant surgery. One friend designed a poster that read, "Thank you to the lungs of Laura for 20 years of exemplary service."

While attending Chapin School in Manhattan as a teenager, Ms. Rothenberg got her classmates interested in raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through its annual Great Strides Walk, her father said. Her family said she recently set up a fund that will raise money for a bronchoscopy suite at Children's Hospital Boston, where she had her transplant.

She went through many bronchoscopies, either to check for possible rejection or infection or to open up her airways, her father said, and scheduling the procedures was often tricky because space had to be found in an operating room.

Ms. Rothenberg wrote a memoir, "Breathing for a Living," that will be published by Hyperion in July.

She is survived by her parents, Jon and Mary, and her partner, Bryan Doerries.

When Ms. Rothenberg was getting ready to go back to school last summer, about a year after her surgery, she talked in the diary about her goals: "You know, I want to walk from my door to the Main Green, maybe even play soccer, which I haven't done for like eight years. But I don't really count on anything anymore. I just go with the flow. I think that's O.K."

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