Dying bride has dream wedding with the help of friends and strangers

At just 27, Caleigh Haber is simultaneously sharing her lifelong dream of getting married and living her worst nightmare.

Caleigh Haber has been hospitalized with cystic fibrosis most of her life. After being rejected for a second lung transplant, she and her fiancé decided to get married and embrace the remainder of her life together. (Photo: Instagram)
Caleigh Haber has been hospitalized with cystic fibrosis most of her life. After being rejected for a second lung transplant, she and her fiancé decided to get married and embrace the remainder of her life together. (Photo: Instagram)

Haber has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes persistent infections and sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. The California resident has spent most of her life in hospitals, but was hopeful after a recent lung transplant that she would live a long, healthy life with her partner, Bryan Takayama.


However, just a week ago, Haber got the news that her body rejected the lungs, and with her health rapidly declining, doctors say she is not an ideal candidate for another transplant.


“With low weight, failing kidneys, declining lung function, and [brittle] diabetes the doctors’ medical expertise tells them I’m not a candidate for surviving a double lung transplant,” she wrote on her Instagram. “‘If it was between giving myself and another person with better qualifications the single pair of lungs available, I too would be forced to agree that the more qualified person receive the lungs.”

Thursday morning I went into clinic with an optimistic mindset that a new path would be discovered leading to a positive outcome. However I was completely taken off guard when I heard the words I needed to be admitted for testing and monitoring. For a “Hail Mary” is what they called this admission. A series of testing the other organs in my body to see what the stress of my poor lung function is doing to them. After two days of testing my heart and working hard to recover my kidney function, I was discharged by my healthcare team telling me there is nothing else they can do to help me improve my health/quality of life. And that they stand by the decision that transplanting me would be setting me up for a battle I have no chance of winning. With low weight, failing kidneys, declining lung function, and bridle diabetes the doctors’ medical expertise tells them I’m not a candidate for surviving a double lung transplant. And honestly I can’t blame them. If it was between giving myself and another person with better qualifications the single pair of lungs available, I too would be forced to agree that the more qualified person receive the lungs. If they will last 1, 2, 5, or 10 years with new lungs and I’d only last hours or days it’s an obvious decision to save the other person. As a result of this prognosis, I’m now left with the “fight or flight” choice of what the next steps for my life should be – continue to work at changing centers’ mind to transplant me or live the rest of my days on my favorite Hawaiian island on palliative care. After a crazy, stressful, and busy 48 hours of high emotions and big decisions, Bryan and I have arrived home to sit down and brainstorm our options for our future. When you have a love as strong as we do one person’s downfall is also the others. We ride the wave of life together no matter how large or scary. So tonight we’ve devised a plan to put all our last eggs into living. #Fight2Breathe #CysticFibrosis #65Roses #CureCF #CFAwareness #UNOS #OrganDonation #DonateLife #RecycleYourself #doublelungtransplant #lovewins #organrejection #medicine #health

A post shared by Caleigh Sarah Haber (@fight2breathe) on Oct 20, 2017 at 11:21pm PDT


The health problems didn’t stop her from getting married to the love of her life, Bryan Takayama, 25,  who she met a year ago. The couple had originally planned an engagement party for Saturday, but with the help of friends and strangers, in just seven days, her engagement party turned into the fairy tale wedding of her dreams.


“When you have a love as strong as we do one person’s downfall is also the others,” Haber shared. “We ride the wave of life together no matter how large or scary. So tonight we’ve devised a plan to put all our last eggs into living.”


A close friend set up a GoFund Me page to help Haber have the wedding and honeymoon she always wanted. On Saturday evening, that dream became a reality as Haber and Takayama said, “I do.”


The GoFund me has surpassed the original $10,000 goal and is now at nearly $21,000. The newlyweds sent a heartfelt thank-you message to all those who contributed.

Haber wrote that she is “overwhelmed with emotion that you have all supported us and shown us unconditional love. As we begin this journey sharing a life together it is so important to have a village behind us.”


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