Opera Singer Who Received 2 Double Lung Transplants Dies at 35

Opera Singer Who Received 2 Double Lung Transplants Dies at 35
Singer Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick performs onstage during the Lung Transplant Project Gala, New York, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Renowned opera singer Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick, who performed in prestigious venues worldwide despite having two separate lung transplants, has died, according to her family. She was 35.

“This morning, life’s curtain closed on one of its consummate heroines,” the family said in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, April 24. “Our beloved Charity passed peacefully with her husband, mother, and siblings at her side and sunshine on her face.”

“Our hearts are broken. In this moment, the world is dark. But Charity’s rays extend far beyond her tragic finale on this earthly stage. Her light continues to illuminate the hearts of thousands and, in that way, Charity is with us always. She is our hero. We love her,” the family added in the statement.

“Life is full of death. Music, full of sorrow. Great artists have always amplified both.”-Charity Sunshine, THE…

Posted by Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A cause of death was not immediately clear.

When Tillemann-Dick was 20 years old, she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disease with no apparent cause, marked by extreme pressure on the heart, according to BBC.

Tillemann-Dick’s heart swelled “three and a half times beyond its normal size” due to the condition, reported BBC.

Before her diagnosis, Tillemann-Dick suffered from frequent shortness of breath and even blacked out three times over the course of a few months, according to the New York Post.

Opera singer Charity Sunshine Tilleman-Dick receives flowers
Alic Bernard gives Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick flowers after her performance onstage during the Lung Transplant Project Gala, New York, Oct. 2, 2017. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

By 2009, her condition had worsened. She underwent her first double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.

“I had spent a lifetime training my body and my lungs and my voice to work in sync and I knew I would lose all of that,” she told BBC.

Her body didn’t take the surgery well and she ended up in a coma for over a month, and for almost two months she was unable to breathe on her own, according to BBC.

However, after complications with rejection by her body of the transplanted lungs, she underwent her second double lung transplant in 2012.

She was given five years to live.

Despite the bleak news, she didn’t let that stop her and in 2014, her debut album, “American Grace,” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s traditional classical charts, according to CNN.

In 2011, when she was struggling with her first double lung transplant, Tillemann-Dick still managed to perform at the Lincoln Center. “I knew that death was imminent, but I was able to live this dream,” she told The Post after performing. “A million and one miracles had paved the path.”

At that point, her new lungs were still not functioning properly, and during the performance an oxygen tank and wheelchair were waiting in the wings of the stage in case she collapsed, reported BBC.

“I could barely breathe but I could still sing,” she told the BBC. “It was a miracle.”

Singer Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick performs onstage
Singer Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick performs onstage during the Lung Transplant Project Gala, New York, Oct. 2, 2017. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Throughout the years, she performed in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Her opera roles included Titania in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream,” Gilda in “Rigoletto and Violetta in La Traviata.”

Prestigious venues she’s performed at include, the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, and the Palace of the Arts in Budapest.

In 2018, she told the Cleveland Clinic she was battling cancer.

“Life is full of death. Music, full of sorrow. Great artists have always amplified both,” she wrote in her 2017 book, The Encore: A Memoir in Three Acts.

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