Celebrities are reaching out to Annie McMahon, who may be on the verge of losing her life due to a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis
While Annie McMahon has already undergone two lung transplants in her lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, her life is now in jeopardy after she became too sick to undergo a third. But the 22-year-old is continuing to hold on to hope with the help of a number of celebrities who have sent her well-wishes.
McMahon was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis — a life-threatening and rare disorder — as a child, and was told by doctors she would likely only live until the age of 18. The disease causes the cells that produce sweat and mucus to becomes thicker in organs such as the lungs, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Because the sticky mucus holds on to bacteria, it increases the likelihood of infections, which causes extensive damage to the lungs over time.
“It’s always been really hard to breathe,” McMahon, of Westchester, New York, tells PEOPLE. “I had a few complications after my first transplant that led to a second, very soon after. And after that, we tried everything. We stayed really on top of my levels and stuff and my doctor and I really tried everything to make sure that that didn’t happen again.”
After recently becoming ill, McMahon found out she was in need of a third transplant. Then she was told she was too sick to survive it.
“Third transplants are very rare and I got too sick. You have to be healthy so you can survive the surgery,” she says. “But I am too sick at this point, so they can’t do that and there’s no other way to get better.”
“I feel good but I don’t really know how long that’s going to last,” McMahon continues. “I’m just trying to enjoy every day, but I don’t want my life to end so soon.”
During a recent hospital stay, one of her friends tweeted out a video of her singing a Taylor Swift song, and as luck would have it, the singer came across it over social media. Soon, McMahon was on the phone with her idol, something she never could have imagined happening.
“That was like the craziest thing,” she recalls. “That was amazing. She said that she wants to meet me. I really hope I get to meet her.”
Since then, dozens of celebrities — including Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, Jimmy Kimmel, Hugh Jackman and Ashton Kutcher — have sent well-wishes to McMahon through personal videos or FaceTime calls. Chrissy Teigen even paid her a personal visit.
“Chrissy Teigen came to my house and she was amazing and just like hung out and it was so nice and so special,” McMahon says. “I FaceTimed Selena Gomez and she was amazing too. Just so down to earth and she also had a transplant, so we were able to relate to each other a lot. That was nice.”
McMahon says the support she has received is a welcomed distraction from the reality she may lose her life if her condition isn’t stabilized soon.
“To see the love and support that’s come out of this really has helped me because I should be so sad, and I am, but seeing all these people reach out to me and care about me, it just really makes me happy,” she says. “It distracts me during this really sad time and I think it’s building my spirits.”
She hopes people who come across her story become inspired to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and list themselves as an organ donor. It is because of past organ donors that she has been able to live so long.
“I want everyone to know that I was a fighter and I am a fighter,” McMahon says. “I’m going to fight as much as I can, but I want to leave a message to the world and I want to show everyone that we need to cherish every moment because we don’t know how much time we have.”
She adds: “I hope that when people see my page and see all this stuff coming in that they see me and see that message of cherishing life.”