On Assignment: Bloodless Lung Transplant for The New York Times
Beginning in October of 2012, I started shooting a story for The New York Times of a woman who needed a lung transplant. The only caveat was that as a Jehovah's Witness, she was not allowed to receive transfused blood products as part of the procedure. While "bloodless" transplants are common enough, the first one being done in the mid-1990's, they can actually be considered a better bet for the patient since there can be less complications in recovery since it's one less factor to worry about before, during and after surgery. The first two assignments were easy enough as far as meeting and photographing the subject, Georgia resident Rebecca Tomczak, as she went through a complete diagnostic battery of tests and also a through a day in her life as she stayed with a host Jehovah's Witness family and a brief visit to a potential apartment complex she was thinking about moving into. The last part of the assignment, being ready when a donor organ was available, was more of a challenge. The call finally came January 30, 2013 from the reporter, Kevin Sack, to tell me an organ had been found and would be delivered to Houston as soon as possible. After speaking with the public affairs person at Methodist Hospital, it was decided it would be best if I got to the hospital at 4am to be ready for surgery. Once things were in place, the surgery seemed to move along quicker than I expected, less than half a day. Meanwhile, I was able to witness the miracle of organ transplantation from a front row seat in the operating room.