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Receiving a Diagnosis Letters of Hope: Episode 1

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Finding out you need a transplant can be scary and overwhelming. Our new docuseries, Letters of Hope, addresses the realities of life with a transplant. In this opening segment, Valen shares the emotions felt when receiving a diagnosis and shares ways to cope while processing the news. While this time period in the journey can be filled with many unknowns, Valen reflects on how impactful it has been to find a community of support, the importance of holding on to hope, and the good that can surprise us along the way.

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.

Read Transcript


When you find out that you need a transplant, it's just really scary and overwhelming. It never comes at a great time in life. That's not how receiving a diagnosis works. And I've been in your shoes of being so scared, and feeling alone, and wondering what your future is like, and if you're going to have restored health again. I think that we need to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves time to process the news.

Change can be really hard on people. And when you get a diagnosis and you know that you're going to be different, and there are going to be new normals throughout the way, I think the gravity of it can be really devastating. I've learned to not underestimate the power of ourselves mentally and physically and I think that we underestimate how well we can adapt to change.

I've been living with kidney disease for almost 30 years. I've been a transplant recipient for half of my life. When I was a child, I couldn't see a future for myself. I didn't know anyone that was living a life that was joyful post-transplant. I went through my whole youth with many questions, feeling alone, and no support except from my parents. And now as an adult experiencing what it's like having a community and a circle of support around me, it's night and day.

When you're around people that get it. that truly get it, that you can talk about lab numbers, you can talk about the emotions of this journey, you really don t feel alone in it. And life can surprise us because I never imagined that I would be healthy and well after receiving two transplants. And I think that's where hope comes into the picture. 

Because we don't know the good (that can come) from this. We know that challenges will come and that we have to endure a lot when going through a transplant. But there (are) things that can surprise us along the way, like we can be surprised by how strong we are, and all that we can endure. And if we hold on to that hope of the good that can come through all of this, it makes the journey a lot easier. And sometimes having that hope just helps us get to the next day.

Receiving a transplant isn't a cure. It's a lifelong journey. And I've been fortunate to get to that other side and be able to experience life post-transplant. And I m in awe every day of how transformative this journey has been. And my wish for you is that with a sense of hope and surrounding yourself with a wonderful community of others going through the same thing, you too can live a fulfilling and joyful life post-transplant.

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Valen Keefer
Multi-organ Transplant Recipient
Patient Advocate
Thermo Fisher Scientific

May 21, 2022

Series: Letters of Hope (video series)