Maryville College senior soon leaving for Duke for double lung and liver transplant

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Everyone has goals, dreams and aspirations which keep them going forward. A Maryville College student’s goal is simple and it’s all about saving her life.

Every step and every second, even inhaling are things Kathryn Norris doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s like breathing through a straw,” said the Maryville College senior.

She goes to UT Medical Center three times a week for therapy because she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at three months old.

“It’s ruled our lives,” said Kathryn’s dad Allen Norris.

Kathryn Norris’s lungs are functioning at about 20 percent, so to get by she uses an inhaler, three nebulizers, a vest to shake her lungs, breathing treatments, two steroids and oxygen.

That routine happens two, sometimes three times a day depending on how she is feeling.

“I calculated and I probably spend an entire month in a year doing therapies.”

Somehow between all of that, Kathryn Norris goes to school full-time, works out, hangs out with friends, hikes, and coaches a dance team.

“I don’t know how she does it, to tell you the truth,” said her mom Cristina Norris.

Weeks ago, Maryville College honored Kathryn Norris by bringing her family onto the football field during a home football game because CF is steering the family in a new direction to Duke for a double lung and liver transplant.

“When they tell you, it’s like a punch in the throat. You don’t know what to expect,” said Kathryn.

“We’ve been battling this for 21 years, now we’re in a war, and we will win,” said Allen.

The family received a phone call from Duke on Wednesday morning letting them know they need to leave for Durham. Kathryn Norris will then be added to a pre-surgery list and begin treatments.

“It’s hard to wait,” she said.

“You want the best for your kid and you cannot do anything about it from the disease point of view,” added Cristina Norris.

There’s little for the family to control, though they do know they’ll be taking a significant amount of time off from work.

“The surgery looks like it’ll be about $1.4 million. Insurance at the moment says they’re pre-approving it,” said Allen Norris.

As a way to help bear that burden, friends have been giving what they can.

“Our path is set in front of us,” added Allen Norris.

There’s no shortcut getting Kathryn to her only goal and that’s: “Just breathe better I guess. And live life to the fullest.”

If you’d like to follow Kathryn Norris’s transplant journey, you can follow her on Instagram @knorris301 or you can help the family by clicking here.

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