K is for Kidney
Number of works: 32
Disease has riddled the world since the existence of our species. We fight many of them with the wonders of modern medicine, yet still tragedies occur. In the case of my friend Michelle Drake, tragedy struck a year ago. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Center more than 20 million adults have severe kidney failure and are living on a machine. The first ten photographs of this series capture her journey through dialysis. Dialysis is not a cure, but a treatment, a way to provide life. Still, the machines that filter your blood are only able to remove 20% of your body’s toxins. The buildup of this material and renal medications causes extremely uncomfortable side effects.
The process for finding a living donor is extensive and gives a roller coaster of emotions. Michelle’s mother and brother were the first family to be tested. After an arduous process of testing and re-testing, her mother Kathy was approved to be a donor on Christmas Eve of 2012. Receiving a kidney from a live donor more than doubles the life of the kidney. Michelle’s body will take longer to reject the organ because it contains her genetic material. The second set of ten photographs is walking through the pre- operational process.
The surgery occurred on February 1st, 2013 and Kathy Drake was able to give life to her daughter for the second time. The kidney is about the size of a small potato and was removed from her mother laproscopically and inserted into Michelle through an 8inch incision in her abdomen; K marks the spot. The last set of ten photographs travels through the post operation and recovery period in the hospital.
As you look at this series it is important for you to know that Michelle has a spirit of tenacity that is unmatched. These are meant to be both a comfort and a confrontation regarding kidney disease. As a photographer I have a responsibility to capture this miracle of medicine. More importantly, as friend I have the honor of sharing her story through these images.