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Charity Tillemann-Dick wows TED talk with tale of double lung transplant and opera career

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Our 2008 story "Father of Invention" told the tale of Timber Dick, a Denver inventor who died in a car accident but left behind a family that puts the Royal Tenenbaums to shame: eleven brilliant, home-schooled children who are taking the world by storm. There's a new chapter to the tale, one that made a splash at the prestigious TEDMED conference in California thanks to Timber's daughter, Charity Sunshine.

At the conference, she recounted her recovery from a life-or-death double lung transplant two years ago -- after which she wowed the audience with her reclaimed singing voice, one that's graced opera stages around the world.

TEDMED, part of the esteemed TED series of talks, is all about highlighting the human elements all too often forgotten in medicine and healthcare -- and it's hard to imagine a more powerful example for the conference than 27-year-old Charity. As she told the packed TEDMED audience last October, in her early 20s she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, a lung condition that is often a death sentence, and a doctor told her she'd have to stop singing, something that had already garnered her international acclaim.

But she never gave up on her singing, even through years of unwieldy medical interventions, a last-ditch thirteen-hour lung operation and a resulting one-month coma. Now she's back, as effervescent as ever, and ready to strut her stuff. The takeaway, she told her rapt audience, is "We have to stop letting disease divorce us from our dreams" -- and to prove it, she concluded with a triumphant opera solo.

Watch it for yourself. We dare you not to be moved.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "John Hickenlooper inauguration photo gallery: Love those stylish shoes, Hick!"

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