In the previous episode, Valen Keefer discussed why mental healthcare would really make a difference in a patient's transplant journey.
In this final episode of Letters of Hope, Valen honors organ donors and shares the positive ripple effects of her two transplants. She discusses how her transplantation journey has been transformative and what she’s learned along the way. Valen shares her experience so that transplant patients may prepare for their own journey, but also to encourage people to become living donors, or sign up to be organ donors and generate a "good" ripple effect.
"My hope in sharing my stories is that other transplant recipients will see the joyful and fulfilling and productive life you can live post-transplant. [I want to] show potential organ donors how grateful transplant recipients are and the opportunity they have to give someone else a second chance at life. Even though it takes some work, and we go through some really, really challenging times, the other side is extraordinarily beautiful. It is so worth fighting for.."
Valen Keefer | Kidney & Liver Transplant Recipient
To honor the selfless gift of her two donors, Valen consciously makes decisions to help other patients and live her life to the fullest. Many people have a long wait time to get a much-needed organ donation.
There are currently over 106,000 people on the national transplant waiting list. Every nine minutes another person will be added to that list. One donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance 75 more. Learn more about being a donor here: https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/organ-donation-statistics
This docuseries is hosted by our patient advocate, Valen Keefer, the series describes the ups and downs, the challenges, and the hope, that someone might experience before, during, and after receiving a transplant. For those considering donation, you can access several interviews with living donors who talk about the process and the positive impact it’s had on their lives.
I am blown away every day to still be alive.
It's still amazing to try and grasp that because of two selfless organ donors, I sit here today extremely healthy and happy. And their gifts restored my health and have enabled me to live this second half of my life.
I met my kidney donor Sally when I was in eighth grade, and when she found out that I was really sick, she stepped forward and got tested to be a donor. She felt a calling and like she was the one. And she wound up being an extraordinary match and we would have never imagined her gift would have led to me still being alive at 39 years old today.
It's just extraordinary, the people that do this, that selflessly give of themselves to give someone else a better life.
I try and show Sally my gratitude through action by the way I choose to live my life, the way I strive to help other people and really just live the fullest life I can. And we recently went on an RV trip, and I was texting her on the way, telling her what we were doing and was excited to be going and seeing new things, because I can do those things because of her. And it's amazing to continually be able to show her how impactful her decision and her gift has been.
We get asked questions a lot in life. And when you think of going to the DMV, and one of the questions you get asked is, "Would you like to be an organ donor? Check yes or no."
There's a person out there that checked "yes " and chose to be an organ donor. And because of their decision, you have something as precious as a second chance and a gift of life.
It's a whole other set of emotions to receive a deceased donation like I did with my liver, I don't know who they are. I don't know who my donor family is, but I just really wanted them to know how grateful I am. And I've been thinking lately about writing them another letter to let them know the extraordinary life I've been able to lead these past several years because of their loved one.
The ripple effect of good that has come from my two transplants is just beautiful. And having that opportunity to become a woman, and fall in love, and get married, all of those things that we just didn't even know if they were going to be possible.
I think, most importantly, I've learned the value of the quality of your life versus the quantity of it, because there were a lot of times that I just wasn't sure how long my life would last. And now having all of these extra years, I'm putting all my energy into making them the best and having the best quality of time that I can while I'm still here.
I'm so thankful for all of the challenges and the trials that I've been through, because it's shaped me into who I am today. And I'm really proud to be a double transplant recipient and to have a connection with life and the meaning of it that I wouldn't have otherwise.
My hope in sharing my stories is that other transplant recipients will see the joyful and fulfilling and productive life you can live post-transplant.
Show potential organ donors how grateful transplant recipients are and the opportunity they have to give someone else a second chance at life.
Even though it takes some work and we go through some really, really challenging times, the other side is extraordinarily beautiful. And it's so worth fighting for.
This transformation into a new version of ourselves, one that appreciates life on a greater level than most others do.
We come out with more than just the gift of life. We come out with gifts that I think only we can feel and experience.
Multi-organ Transplant Recipient
Thermo Fisher Scientific
August 26, 2022
Series: Letters of Hope (video series)