Out of Breath

A documentary by Els Anker and Iris Verhoeven

Out of Breath is a documentary by Iris Verhoeven and Els Anker. The movie tells the story of Sarah Smit (28) and Kim Clement (30), two young women suffering from the hereditary and (until now) incurable disease cystic fibrosis, also known as ‘taaislijmziekte’. It provides an exclusive insight into a life before and after a lung transplant and the tough choices young people suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF) have to face.

Despite being sick, 28-year old Sarah Smit wants to live a normal life: she is currently living together in Haarlem with Australian boyfriend Shane. However, before that she used to travel the world as a (Playboy) model and au pair. She is now facing the pivotal question whether or not to be placed on a waiting list for a lung transplant, given that her health is deteriorating day by day.

Kim Clement (30) on the other hand has already undergone lung transplantation and has been trying to get her life back on track ever since. She works in a health centre and lives together with her boyfriend Robin in ‘s Hertogenbosch. Donor lungs however have a limited life: the average life span is 5 to 10 years, and Kim has just had her 5-year ‘anniversary’. The biggest challenge: learning to respect her limits.

In the Netherlands, an estimate of 1.530 people suffer from cystic fibrosis (CF), a chronic and hereditary condition. People suffering from CF carry a genetic defect in their bodies, resulting in their mucus being unusually thick. As a result, enzymes and bodily waste matters cannot be transported properly and the mucus starts to form deposits. This affects the lungs in particular, and in turn leads to infections, difficulty with breathing and an increasing strain on the respiratory system. A lung transplantation is a necessary possibility to be able to continue to live, but the disease itself remains.

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