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Uninvisible Pod with Lauren Freedman

Aug 26, 2020

Kendall Ciesemier is the executive producer of multimedia for the ACLU. A multi-award-winning reporter, producer, writer, and social entrepreneur, she founded Kids Caring 4 Kids — an organization that empowers young people and helps provide access to clean water, healthcare, food, and education to children living in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa — at the age of 11. While attending Georgetown University, she co-founded OWN IT, a national women’s initiative that empowers and inspires college-age women by providing access to 21st-century female leaders through summits focused on said leadership, diversity, accessibility, and feminism. Kendall came to prominence as a journalist through her work with digital news company Mic. Her interview with Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving life in prison without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, caught Kim Kardashian West’s eye. Kardashian West then successfully lobbied President Trump to grant Johnson clemency — and Kendall produced a series of reported pieces alongside the effort, catapulting the story to make international headlines and result in real-world impact. She has also worked at The New York Times and CBS This Morning, and is the co-host of podcast That That Don’t Kill Me. Most prominently, she has been honored as the 2014 Glamour Magazine College Woman of the Year, a Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine, Zeitgeist Young Mind by Google, and one of Youth Service America’s Top 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People. She’s given a TED Talk, rubbed shoulders with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on the TODAY, Show, and even been sandwiched between President Clinton and Oprah on her eponymous show. All this…and she’s also survived two liver transplants. Here, we turn the mic toward Kendall to hear her story: how she was diagnosed with chronic liver disease as a child, the organ donation process, and how she maintains her health to this day. Her story is one of triumph against the odds — and she knows it. Tune in to learn more about this incredible woman!

Tune in as Kendall shares:

  • that she was diagnosed with pediatric liver disease biliary atresia at 8 weeks old — and had her first surgery at that age, as well
  • that she had her second surgery at 4 years old — and a grand total of 6 major liver surgeries, to date
  • that she had 2 liver transplants at 11 years old — the first a living donor (her Dad), the second a deceased donor
  • how liver transplant works
  • that she’s coming up on 16 years post-transplant
  • that her abdominal muscles are also flipped — a condition called abdominal situs inversus
  • that as a result of a surgical complication from her second transplant, her bile ducts narrowed and collapsed — and she had to have a tube inserted to drain her liver in order to avoid sepsis. The tube was changed out every 6 weeks under general anesthesia, from the ages of 11-23
  • that when she had an aneurysm of one of her arteries, she narrowly survived — there was only a 2% chance of survival
  • that she’s achieved so much because when you face your biggest fear at all times (mortality) — it instills a boldness in you — and she sees that as a huge advantage in life
  • that Kids Caring 4 Kids gave her tremendous purpose while undergoing transplants when she was young — and supported her healing
  • why it’s so important to fight for disability accommodations in college and beyond
  • that medicine is an art, not a science — and still involves a lot of guesstimation. That’s why you should trust yourself above all others