Cystic fibrosis ambassador Lauren 'Lo' Detrich dies at 28
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
8/15/12 at 4:22 AM
Inspired by words from the Book of Matthew - "And, lo, I am with you always " - Lauren "Lo" Detrich's nickname was a consoling reminder to her family members:
No matter what, they knew, she would never be alone.
They began calling her "Lo" as a newborn after learning that she had cystic fibrosis, an incurable lung disease that kills most sufferers before they reach 30.
To fight it, Detrich was going to need all the support, divine included, they could muster.
She got it in spades.
And in turn, she became a source of support for many others, in Tulsa and beyond. Reminding them that they, too, were not alone, the perky, blue-eyed blonde began at an early age to dedicate herself to her fellow cystic fibrosis patients.
A well-known ambassador for the CF and organ-donor communities who spoke to countless audiences and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research, Lauren "Lo" Chevalier Detrich died Saturday. She was 28.
A service is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Family Cathedral under the direction of Fitzgerald Ivy Funeral Home.
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 3 months old, Detrich grew up enduring a never-ending regimen of pills, inhalants and physical therapy.
In spite of it all, she led an active life, graduating from Bishop Kelley High School and promoting CF research in her spare time, first as a poster child and then as an ambassador for the Sooner Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
But Detrich's lungs eventually began to succumb to the disease.
At age 22, she underwent a double lung transplant. She recovered well and was soon walking, jogging and working again, selling homes for McGraw Realtors.
But her new lungs also eventually failed, and she was forced to have a second double-transplant.
Then last year, she underwent a kidney transplant, with her father donating one of his.
Through it all, the waits for donors and the ordeal of the procedures, Detrich had a dogged resilience and a positive attitude.
Even after learning that her last set of lungs were also failing, meaning her time was running out, she kept up her spirits, her mother, Terry Detrich, said.
She said her daughter thought it over but "decided she didn't have a bucket list. 'I just want to live,' she said. 'And when God's ready to take me, I'm ready.' "
But until then, "whether in the ICU or out of it, she was putting the pedal to the metal. ... I don't know of anyone who gave more of herself to others," her mother added.
For giving her the courage to keep fighting, Detrich always credited her family and friends. But first and foremost, it was about faith; she never stopped believing that God put her on Earth for a purpose, illness and all.
After her second transplant, she told the Tulsa World: "I can't tell you how lucky I am. This is my third set of lungs, and I'm only 23. I'm so happy, so blessed. I want to give back to the world, make a difference and leave a positive mark."
JoAnn Winn, executive director of the Sooner CF Foundation, said: "I've never known anyone quite as inspiring as Lo, her spirit, her enthusiasm, her efforts for CF, even during her transplants. She changed my life. She's my reason for staying."
Among Detrich's many honors were the Henry Zarrow Award, which she received at age 13 for her service to the CF Foundation; the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for Oklahoma; and, in 2002, the national Barron Prize Scholarship Award, presented annually to 10 teenagers for their community service.
In 2002, she was chosen to carry the Winter Olympics torch through Tulsa.
Detrich also was featured in a number of books about extraordinary youths, and her parents chronicled the family's experience in their own book: "The Spirit of Lo - an Ordinary Family's Extraordinary Journey."
She is survived by her mother, Terry Detrich; her father, Don Detrich; and a sister, Jane Detrich.
Original Print Headline: CF ambassador relied on her faith
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Lauren 'Lo' Detrich: The Bishop Kelley graduate was honored with numerous awards for her fundraising efforts and community service. JoAnn Winn, executive director of the Sooner CF Foundation, praised Detrich's "spirit, her enthusiasm, her efforts for CF, even during her transplants. She changed my life. She's my reason for staying."