*From the desk of Lauren Pierce*
Please allow me to introduce to you, Valen Keefer- the new blog writer for the Chris Klug Foundation. This may be a reintroduction for many of you. Valen has been featured on our blogs in the past, but as a subject, not the voice. You may also be familiar with Valen as our 2017 Bounce Back, Give Back Award Winner, presented at last year’s Summit for Life event.
Let me give you a little glimpse behind the curtain of CKF. Each week, Anna Schwinger, our Program Manager works with people just like you – transplant recipients, donors, coordinators, caregivers… however, you find yourself reading the blogs of the Chris Klug Foundation- to share their story. Anna works with the subjects or in most cases the writers, to tell their stories, highlighting their journey with photos, videos and follow up comments. The stories behind the people we feature on our social media and the people we work with are the best part of our job. I’ll be honest with you, it is difficult to bear the weight of the statistics of organ donation. Each week, on Monday mornings we are greeted back to work after the weekend, with a data report from UNOS. This data report provides us with the most up-to-date statistics of organ donation. It is vital to know where we stand in the fight, but it is difficult to connect the numbers with the people. We love to hear your stories and share them with others. It is the stories that break through the statistics and gives us a perspective on what we are all fighting for. CKF is fighting to eliminate the wait for those on the transplant list. Those “those” that I strategically went back to italicize so you can go back and know who I am referring to- are the people behind the stories, behind the stats, behind our work that deserve our efforts and time. Anna has been telling those stories for two years now. No, we are not pumping the breaks on Anna, you will still hear from her. We want to toss a new transfer case in the preverbal engine of CKF to provide you with new gears. Valen will be writing two times a month for CKF. She will give you a perspective that we cannot – someone who has gone through and is going through what you may be facing.
Valen has been dealt a few hard hands. Despite this, she is winning the game with an infectious smile and inspiring outlook that cannot go ignored. Valen was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) at the age of 10. At 19, a family friend donated a kidney to Keefer, saving her life. Now 34, she has spent much of her post-transplant life helping others fight similar problems. Valen enjoys sharing her journey to provide positivity, knowledge, determination, inspiration, and hope. She now finds herself diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). With such a recent diagnosis, we will read about Valen’s progress as she navigates her way back on the waitlist. Valen will also follow up with comments and answer your questions. She will also be focusing on various subjects behind organ donation.
I am very excited to read Valen’s blogs, giving us a perspective and voice that will be honestly powerful and inspirational. Her first blog will be posted next week. I am eager to learn more from Valen and about the topics that she will highlight, I hope you are too.
Click on image to read Valen’s first blog post from August 2017