Anabel Mariko Stenzel, a passionate advocate for organ and blood donors, passed away in Redwood City last month after a battle with cancer. The Blood Center will remember Anabel, known as Ana, with gratitude for her tremendous contributions, and admiration for her uplifting spirit.
Along with her twin, Isabel Stenzel Byrnes, known as Isa, Ana had many ties to Stanford. As Isa wrote for this blog back in August 2011, “Stanford has special significance for both of us. We both graduated from Stanford University, I got married at Stanford, and actually Stanford Hospital saved both of our lives. Some of you may have even played a role in saving our lives.”
The Stenzel twins were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis three days after being born, in Los Angeles, in 1972. On that day, Ana required emergency surgery and received her first blood transfusion. The rocky beginning marked a life with many medical challenges, and their prognosis was not optimistic early on. But along with her twin, Ana met all of the challenges with determination, and they beat the odds. Both received double-lung transplants at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, and vowed to live life to the fullest to thank the donors who helped them survive.
Ana and her sister also helped save the lives of others by becoming powerful advocates, sharing their story and inspiring people to become blood and organ donors. In 2007, they published a memoir, The Power of Two: A Twin Triumph Over Cystic Fibrosis, which was later made into a documentary film that premiered in 2011.
The twins have been tremendous supporters of Stanford Blood Center, helping to teach our community about the important role that blood donors play in organ transplants. Ana worked at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for 16 years, and she also volunteered for a number of nonprofits focused on raising awareness about cystic fibrosis, organ donation, and blood donation. She will be dearly missed, but she has left an indelible mark on the hearts of many in this community and beyond.
A memorial service will be held Oct. 26 in Portola Valley for Ana at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at Valley Presbyterian Church, 945 Portola Road. To support efforts to research and cure cystic fibrosis-related gastrointestinal cancer, please click here to donate to the Anabel Stenzel Memorial Fund at the University of California, San Francisco.
Visit the Stanford School of Medicine website to learn more about Ana’s inspiring life and contributions.