By Lindsay Doty
Growing up, sisters Melanie and Rosalie Albright shared a passion for local theater.
Rosalie or “Rosie” sang before she could talk. As a young girl, she auditioned and performed any chance she got at The Biz Academy of Musical Theatre in Avon.
Her older sister Melanie also loved the stage. She enjoyed volunteering behind the scenes instead doing makeup and set painting.
The girls had a zest for life. They also shared a painful battle. They were born with cystic fibrosis — a genetic condition that impacts the lungs.
In 2014, 18-year-old Melanie’s lungs began to fail. While waiting for a lung donor, she passed away.
Six months later, younger sister Rosie, 14, discovered she was a match for a double lung donor. The teen had a successful double transplant and was soon back on stage. But nearly two years later, her family says her body began to reject her new lungs. Rosie died in 2016.
“Cherish every moment. No one knows how long we have to live,” said Aimee Albright, Melanie and Rosie’s mother. “When the life of your loved one is over on earth, all we have left are the memories.”
She says they are thankful for the organ donor who said “yes” and gave Rosie that second chance at life — even if only for a short while.
“Rosie’s post-transplant time only lasted 22 months, but it was an amazing time of living every day to the fullest,” said Aimee Albright.
Since their loss, Aimee, her husband, son and family have been on a quest to honor the girls’ memory and raise awareness for organ donation.
During their journey, they were filmed for a documentary about the organ donation process. It will debut this month in Plainfield.
“We decided to participate in the documentary to help bring more awareness to the lack of registered organ donors in the U.S.,” Aimee Albright said.
The film “You Can’t Take Them with You” by Sky Lines Films documents what the family went through from the waiting list to post-surgery.
“We hope people will become more educated on the entire organ donation and transplantation process, dispel any myths about organ donation and transplantation, and increase the number of registered organ donors in the U.S.,” said Albright.
Their family founded The Melanie and Rosalie Albright Foundation in 2017. The nonprofit raises money for young performers who have the same passion for theater as Melanie and Rosie.
“We know firsthand how important it was for Melanie and Rosie to find their support system, their tribe, through their involvement in theater, and we don’t want finances to be an obstacle for area youth wishing to participate in any aspect of theater,” Aimee Albright said.
The MRA Foundation has hosted several events, including auctions and a Run for Rosie in April. Any donations at the documentary viewing will also support the foundation.
If you go:
The Melanie and Rosalie Albright
Breathing Life into Theater
2 p.m. July 27
Plainfield High School auditorium, 1 Red Pride Drive, Plainfield
No admission. Donations welcome.
Facebook: The Melanie and Rosalie Albright Foundation
Sisters Rosie (left) and Melanie Albright both battled and passed away from cystic fibrosis. A new film promoting organ donation features the Avon family. (Photo provided by Aimee Albright)