p>Imagine growing up knowing you'll likely be dead by age 30.
That's the dramatic situation at the heart of The Power of Two, a celebrated documentary about twin sisters who were born with cystic fibrosis but have beaten the odds to not only survive but thrive.
The Power of Two makes its Kansas City debut on Monday, March 5, 2012, at 6 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Following the screening the film's two subjects - sisters Anabel "Ana" Mariko Stenzel and Isabel "Isa" Yuriko Stenzel Byrnes - participate in a panel discussion about their lives and their continuing fight on behalf of the organ transplant programs that saved them.
Directed by Marc Smolowitz (The Weather Underground, Trembling Before G-d), The Power of Two employs archival footage and expert interviews to bring Ana and Isa's story to life.
Born in 1972 in Los Angeles to Japanese and German immigrant parents, the newborn sisters were quickly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas. Their parents were told the girls would be lucky to live 10 years.
For two decades the twins fought their ever-worsening condition. Despite spending much of their childhoods in hospitals, they excelled academically, graduating from college and beginning careers as a genetic counselor (Ana) and social worker (Isa). Both married.
But in their mid-20s their health declined precipitously. Lung transplants saved their lives. Today they run half marathons, climb mountains, swim, and participate in the U.S. Transplant Games. They also have written a memoir, The Power of Two: A Twin Triumph Over Cystic Fibrosis.
The Stenzel Twins have become advocates for better access to health care, treatment, and transplantation around the world. They have especially directed their efforts at Japan, their mother's home, which because of deeply-rooted cultural factors is at the bottom of the list of industrialized nations in organ transplants.
The Power of Two is a deeply moving film experience with the emotional and intellectual power to change minds.
Admission is free. A 5:30 p.m. reception precedes the event. A 7:30 p.m. panel discussion featuring the sisters follows. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
Co-sponsored by Gift of Life, Midwest Transplant Network, the Otto Alexander Trust, and the Price Family Foundation.