Friday, April 24, 2009

Gifts of Life

I have been super busy with lots of projects over the past couple of weeks... most excitingly of all I have teamed up with Sarah and her 'Gifts of Life' photography project. I first heard about her great idea when I was sunning myself in Australia, and thought it was absolutely fab. She has set up a website - which you can view here - containing information on the project and a gallery which is going to be regularly updated with photos over the next few months. Sarah is going to be taking photos of those waiting for a transplant or who have received one. Having just gone through the small matter of a living kidney transplant (Hi Oli!) I have decided to base my part of the project on this.

Sarah has been beavering away and has secured an amazing gallery for the exhibition to be held at in December - The Menier Chocolate Factory. We went to visit it today - it's perfect, and will look even better once it's covered in our photos! We also had a coffee at the Tate Modern and chatted about the whole project. I came away feeling hugely inspired and raring to get going. I wrote the pitch below tonight which I am going to be posting around the internet to try and acquire subjects for the photos. So if you're reading this, and have been/going to be part of a living kidney donor transplant get in touch...and pass the word on! :)

As many of you may have heard Sarah Milne - photographer and Mum of William who received a life saving small bowel transplant last year is exhibiting a series of photographs entitled 'Gifts of Life'. The photographs will capture people waiting for their gifts of life or who have received their gifts.

I was diagnosed with ESRF (end stage renal failure) in 2003, and waited five long years on the transplant list for a new kidney. My amazing friend Oli came forward and donated his kidney to me in October 2008. This act of pure selflessness has literally changed my life, I have never felt better. As part of The Gift of Life exhibition I am going to be doing a series of portraits of live donors and their recipients.

My aim of the project is to capture the strong bond between a kidney recipient and live donor. This is such a special and extraordinary relationship. I want the photos to represent this relationship and the donor's heroic act and to explore the bond between donors and recipients whether it be friends, family members, altruistic, work colleagues or spouses.

It takes a very special person to donate an organ in order to save another's life. Having a strong understanding of the process of living kidney donation I am particularly interested in the donors themselves – why they made the decision that many others wouldn't even consider and the recipient – how they felt receiving the gift of life from someone they know. I want my photos to reflect this.

During my time spent with my subjects I will no doubt be swopping hospital experiences and transplant stories. I think that the fact that I will have a huge amount in common with my subjects will give the project a different outlook and help me bond with them more easily, which I hope will be reflected in the photos.

I will meet with the couple beforehand to chat and get a sense of their personalities and then decide on the set up and location of the photo. What I'd like to achieve is a picture where the viewer has a sense of who these people are and how they feel, I want to move people and inspire them.

The photos are going to be used specifically to raise awareness of organ donation, and also support and promote the charity Life Life Then Give Life. The photos are going to be exhibited at the Menier Gallery from the 14th - 19th December alongside Sarah's photos, with the plan of more exhibitions across the country. The photos will also appear on my blog and website, and I will make up a booklet for the exhibition will will contain all the photos I will have taken throughout the project.

My passion is photography. I've studied it at University of the Arts in London and been lucky enough to have been commissioned to work for various companies such as Innocent Drinks, Art In Site and Divertimenti Cookery School. You can view my photos at My own personal website is in the making!

I am looking for people to appear in these photos. I'd love to hear from anyone who has had a living donor kidney transplant, or anyone who has a living donor transplant planned for in the future. Please get in touch at if you are interested in being photographed or have any questions about the project

Please also get in touch if you are interested in helping out with the project or exhibition in any way. As I will need to fund the printing and framing of the photos, I will be trying to raise funds and looking for sponsorship. Sarah and I are also looking for any other venues that might be suitable to exhibit the photos. So if you can help in anyway, that would be absolutely fantastic...It's all about getting the word out about organ donation!


Emmie said...

Hi Holly

If you are looking for case studies for your part of the "Gifts of Life" project I can put you in touch with a pair of awesome friends of mine. Like you and Oli one gave the other a kidney. They then went on to write a single called "Live Life Then Give Life" as they are part of a really top-notch jazz band (in fact they were playing jazz together in the foyer of Hammersmith Hospital just days after the op!). You can read more about their story here:

Good luck with the project, it sounds amazing! xxx

Emmie said...

Sorry the link won't work on here for some reason! Instead try visting their live kidney donation website:

Andy got together a photocall of live kidney donors last year so he may have other contacts to help you out. x

Holly said...

Emmie thank you so much, I'd love to get in touch with them! What a great idea to release a single! Will pm you :) xxx

Gemma Stevens said...

Hi Holly,
I am friends with your cousin Amy - in fact she is going to be my maid of honour when I get married next year - and she told me about your blog as I had a kidney transplant last year. I really enjoy reading your blog especially your description of the transplant and how you felt afterwards. My mum was my donor and we would love to get involved in your Gifts for Life project. Please feel free to get in touch if you are interested -
Best wishes,


carebear said...

Hi Holly. I just happened to come upon you from a facebook group about kidney transplants. :) My son will soon be getting his kidney, though we don't know whose he will receive. He is only 11 months old and has to weigh 10 kilos before he can undergo surgery...he's at 8.2 right now.
I'd love to be part of any project that promotes organ donation. Let me know what help you need. Good luck!! hugs!
Karen (Matthew's mommy)

Anonymous said...

Came across this link you may be interested in while I was searching for information on donating to a family member, though this is to a stranger. I cant imagine what it is like to have to wait year after year for a transplant. All the best to you and everyone.