To empower people, especially younger people, to never lose hope, and improving the quality of lives touched by the miracle of transplantation through support, advocacy, education, and awareness across the youth community.
"What a move from York to CA!! I will tell Dr. Kees-Folts that you said hello. She is awesome! We are seeing the transplant team the most right now since it has only been a month since surgery. The docs at Hershey seem to be very proactive. We had a…"
"Oh my gosh those were my two doctors! Dr. Kees-foltz took care of me from 10 years old when I was diagnosed with PKD until I was 19 and transferred to Johns Hopkins! Small world! :-) I recently moved from York, PA to Auburn, CA. Please tell them I…"
"You must live close to my hometown. I am from York, PA and my pediatric nephrologists were at Hershey Med Center and I was hospitalized there many times! I wish the best of health to your adorable son and you and your family! :-)"
Please Select Your Transplant - Or Tell Us How Else You Were Touched by Transplantation:
Recipients: In This Space, Feel Free To Write About Those You Are Grateful to for Receiving The Gift Of Life:
My amazing kidney donor, Sally Robertson, who gave me a second chance at life! My remarkable transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Montgomery, who took the risk of transplanting me and saved my life! My parents . . . the love and respect that I have for my Mom and Dad is immeasurable. They have endured just as much as I have, if not worse, because they had to sit by helplessly and watch their child suffer. They were there every day I was in the hospital. It was their constant love and support that helped me get through the long and uncertain days. They gave me something to fight for. It was their eyes that gave me the strength to see the bright future ahead, their hands that provided the comforting touch, and their words that encouraged me to fight – and win. I am so proud of them. They exemplify the epitome of unconditional love.
Recipient: What Type of Donor Did You Receive your Gift of Life From?
Which Transplant Medication(s) Do You Take?
What Do You Do For a Living? What Are Your Passions, Hobbies, Passtimes, Dreams and Goals for the Future?
I am an enthusiastic public speaker and enjoy traveling all over North America sharing my story of hope. Since 2008 I have been using my published biography, “My Favorite American” by Dennis McCloskey – www.dennismccloskey.com - to help spread awareness of PKD and the importance of transplantation.
About Me: Please use this space to tell the community about you and your unique experience with transplantation:
When we wake up in the morning and start each day, we have the choice to make it a positive one! Sometimes we underestimate the power of positive thinking and how this energy can play a big part in our lives. I have endured a lifetime of severe illnesses but I am alive today thanks, in part, to my positive outlook on life.
Most of the memories of my youth revolve around the debilitating health issues that I faced. While I conquered them, they still remain defining moments in my life. My earliest memory is one particular morning when I was five years old and I fell to the ground and experienced my first grand mal seizure. They would continue, periodically, for the next eight years. I was 13-years-old when I grew out of them.
The next defining moment of my youth occurred at the age of 10, following a check-up at my pediatrician’s office. My blood pressure was an astounding 160/140. Instinctively, my mother knew that high blood pressure is a side effect of the hereditary disease that was passed down to her from her mom. It is called polycystic kidney disease (PKD). I was given an ultrasound and it was discovered that my kidneys were polluted with cysts! On the car ride home, Dad was driving, Mom was sitting in the back seat with me, crying. I wasn’t sure why she was so upset. I was too young to understand that I had just been diagnosed with PKD, one of the most common life threatening genetic diseases which affects 600,000 American and 12.5 million people worldwide.
In grade school, children just want to fit in with their peers and be “normal.” No matter how hard I tried to be accepted by my classmates, I was always considered “different.” While in 8th Grade, my doctor diagnosed a severe s-shaped curvature in my back that was pushing into my lungs. I had a 67-degree curvature. It would kill me unless immediate surgery was performed. Thankfully, the surgery was successful but I missed half of my 8th Grade school year. Today, my spine is only a 16-degree curve.
I missed out on a lot of my youth because I had to deal with these challenging issues. But I had no idea this was only the beginning and that life would become even more demanding. I would soon be put to the test even more when I entered college. I graduated high school in 2001 and immediately began college. Less than two months later, I became severely ill due to PKD. I had horrible cyst bleeds that put me in the hospital where I remained for nearly eleven months. During this time, both of my kidneys were removed; I was on daily dialysis; I developed pancreatitis; I experienced a congenital anomaly (a bleeding vessel in my stomach); I underwent over 70 blood transfusions; and I had a successful, life-saving, kidney transplant on August 13, 2002. Today, at age 27, the only visible sign of my pain and suffering is in the form of 40 inches of scars that criss-cross my body.
I have learned so much about life and living because I endured so much at such a young age. For starters, it's true when they say: "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." I have become a stronger, more compassionate, and better person because of my illnesses. And it is due to my suffering that I have developed a sincere appreciation of life and an understanding and recognition of what really matters.
I am alive today thanks to my kidney donor, Sally Robertson. She has given me a second chance at life and I live each day with purpose and to make her and my two amazing parents proud. The love I have for my parents, Pam and Bill, is immeasurable. Their love, dedication and devotion as parents are why I was able to remain strong in the fight of my life. I knew I was loved.
Following my transplant, I learned of the PKD Foundation and found my passion, which is to share my story and help those with PKD. I am an enthusiastic public speaker and enjoy traveling all over North America sharing my story of hope. Since 2008 I have been using my published biography, “My Favorite American” by Dennis McCloskey – www.dennismccloskey.com - to help spread awareness of PKD and the importance of transplantation.
In 2004 I founded the South Central PA Chapter of the PKD Foundation, and since then have been committed to this amazing organization by holding positions such as Chapter and Walk Coordinator from 2004-2007, and helping to plan our upcoming 2010 Renal Education Seminar. I am honored to have the opportunity to be on the National Board of Directors for TRIO and be able to reach out and help youth. It is important for youth to have a strong support system and know that they are not alone. I hope our TRIO Youth Circle Group will unite youth transplant recipients and families to provide a positive and inspirational environment for us to share our thoughts, grow, and learn from each other. What we get in return by giving is amazing. Being able to make an impact and change people’s lives is far better than anything else I have experienced.
What do you consider a good day? For me, a good day is when I wake up in the morning and I am healthy and I don’t have to spend the day in a hospital. It is my hope that after reading my story people will become inspired to live even more positively, or reach out and volunteer, or say yes when asked to be an organ donor, and to enjoy the simple things in life.
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Don't tell me the sky's the limit when I know there are footprints on the moon. ~Paul Brandt
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What a move from York to CA!! I will tell Dr. Kees-Folts that you said hello. She is awesome! We are seeing the transplant team the most right now since it has only been a month since surgery. The docs at Hershey seem to be very proactive. We had a biopsy last week, and they are thinking about doing another one in the next few days since his creatinine level is up from .92 to 1.09. What an emotional roller coaster!
Had my first Kidney?Pancreas 2/17/90 at UCSF
My second tx was a Kidney only 'My wife Nancy's' 8/6/92 at UCSF
My third tx a Kidney/Pancreas was on 8/4/09 at UW-Madison
Yes amen thank you Jesus! :) What a great story you have Valen~~~I know that unconditional love you talked about. My wife has been by my side for 24 years and she was a God send for me (another thank you Jesus) I am doing really good and at 51 (still blows my mind) I am healthier than when I was 19 :)
Thanks for sharing your great story....Tracy
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