New England Organ Bank Art Exhibit

Mouse over the images to read the story behind them.

“My photograph, Cove Trees reminds me of my failed biliary tree. I received my liver transplant on 12/18/08. I was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis in 1989. I was on the transplant list for 11 months before receiving the gift of life. I studied photography in college but choose a different path in life. My passion for photography was reignited after my transplant. I see the world with new eyes and a new enthusiasm for life. My second photo is titled Rainbow Factory.”

Brad Shwidock of Connecticut
Liver transplant recipient, 2008
Photographs: Cove Trees & Rainbow Factory

“The rough sketch for this image was created while in the hospital recovering from a kidney/pancreas transplant. I finalized the art in our hotel room through the next few weeks while I needed to remain close to the hospital for follow-up appointments. I was able to use this as a thank you card cover for all the love and support that was given to me throughout my illness, surgery and recovery. The back read: ‘Forever grateful for their sacrifice… Forever grateful for the gift they gave… Forever grateful to my donor and her family.’ Art inspired by the gift of a new life received September 8, 2009

Dave Cote of New Hampshire
Kidney and pancreas transplant recipient
Poster: Organ Donation, A Gift of Life

Susan Whitman Helfgot is the widow of Joseph Helfgot, a Hollywood movie marketer who died from complications during heart transplant in April of 2009. She was cast into the national spotlight when a Boston Globe reporter uncovered that her husband had been the donor in a historic transplant operation. In the late 1990s, the former insurance company executive decided to return to her first love, science, returning to college to study astronomy and biology. She co-founded a charter middle school in Los Angeles while pursuing her studies. Her knowledge of biology coupled with a decade as her husband's caregiver outside and within hospital walls has given her a unique and valuable perspective and Susan has become an outspoken advocate for organ donation. She has presented to national medical conferences and testified before the Commonwealth of Massachusetts legislature, and has appeared on television programs including Good Morning America and Dr. Oz. Susan established the Joseph H. Helfgot Foundation with funds from the sale of The Match: Complete Strangers, a Miracle Transplant, Two Lives Transformed. Projects include Team Heart Rwanda and an ongoing research study about public perceptions concerning face transplantation. The foundation also provides funding support for face transplant medical research. For more information visit Joseph H. Helfgot Foundation. An avid runner and stargazer, Susan lives with her children and cocker spaniel in a suburb of Boston.

Susan Whitman Helfgot
Donor spouse, 2009
Book, The Match

Patrick received his heart transplant when he was 9 years old. While in the hospital he would sketch to pass the time until a heart was found for him and could receive his transplant. He’s now a very healthy teen!

Patrick Michaud of Maine
Heart transplant recipient
Pencil sketches

Mary is the sister of Jack Coppolino, a Rhode Island resident and liver recipient. “The transplant has fully restored his health. It has allowed him to attend his son’s wedding. He is also enjoying his three grandsons. He's living a full and active life. This has inspired me to do likewise. In October 1997, being retired, I moved to Southwest Florida. I love to travel throughout the states taking landscape and seascape photos. These photos become the source for my paintings. On one such occasion, Jack and I were relaxing by the water enjoying the serene beauty around us. I wanted to take a photo of the boats docked at the shipyard. I used that photo as a reference to do this painting of a sailboat docked at the Wickford Shipyard Harbor in Rhode Island.”

Mary Kenny of Florida
Sister of a liver transplant recipient
“Reflections” painting, acrylics

“Although I’ve been taking photographs for fun for many years, this hobby has taken on a new meaning in my life since my brother’s liver transplant. Now when I travel or visit my family, my camera is the first thing I pack. It’s amazing how quickly you can be reminded that life is short and that you should make time to enjoy your loved ones and all the world has to offer.”

Michele Beauchine Collins of Massachusetts
Sister of a liver transplant recipient
“Western Water” and “First Trip to Hollywood” photographs

“I created this series of silk screens in 2000, seven years before my brother’s liver transplant. Although I’ve lost touch with my creative side in the years since, I promised myself that I would make time to reconnect with my old hobbies. Experiencing firsthand how precious life is reminded me to make time to do the things I love and cherish time spent with family.”

Holly Beauchine of New York
Sister of a liver recipient
Silk screens: “Sunny Spring”, “Stormy Spring”, “Rainy Spring”

“It was the summer of 2003 and we were vacationing at Cape Cod. I hadn’t been feeling well and my dad had passed away suddenly several months earlier. I had been living with kidney disease for awhile but I believed that there was always hope. I have even said that I would take “false hope” over “no hope” and maybe that was what I was thinking when I wrote those letters in the sand. Like so many other photos that I take, once developed and looked at several times they get thrown in a box and forgotten. Six months later we were lucky enough to find a house in Rhode Island. We put a down payment on the house with insurance money my dad left me and when one of the home inspectors was explaining the paper work I noticed something wrong, so I questioned her. She had written the wrong town on the inspection form. ‘We live in Scituate,’ I had said and her reply sent my back a few steps. She told me that I do indeed live in Scituate but Scituate has several small villages and I now lived in one of them. She said, ‘the village you live in is Hope.’ A chill ran up my spine and I instantly remembered the photo I had taken that summer. It now hangs on our foyer wall so that when we arrive home ‘Hope’ is the first thing we see when we enter the door.”

Steve Bruno of Rhode Island
Kidney transplant recipient
“Hope” photograph

“My daughter, Amanda loved life, family, helping others and the beauty of nature. She also enjoyed dabbling in black and white photography. After her untimely death at the tender age of 22, I often found solace in nature…and I began to photograph flowers and butterflies. It helped me feel closer to Mandy. Following a harsh storm last winter…with camera in hand, I began snapping winter’s beauty. Our family had always loved the winter – skiing, skating, and even the laughs of early morning shoveling. In our house, the last one out ‘won’ the end of the driveway! Mandy’s tragic death on an early, snowy morning drive to her senior nursing clinical had taken away the purity of winter snow. As years have passed, snow covered trees beckon me to catch the New England beauty…Mandy must once again be saying, “Mom, LOOK how beautiful it is outside!” I hope you enjoy these photographs (I took with Mandy in my heart). Amanda’s last gift of ‘beauty’ was the gift of life…a tissue donor.”

Nancy Paro of New Hampshire
Tissue donor mom
“Snowy Days” photographs

Donate Life quilt by Pat Rollins of Maine

Pat Rollins of Maine
Mother of a kidney and pancreas transplant recipient
Donate Life quilt

“When I was waiting for my transplant, and in and out of the hospital, I crocheted baby hats and blankets. After my transplant I had to relearn how to crochet. Crocheting these items was a great help in getting my coordination skills back. Everything I make is donated to local charities.”

Ellie Ball of New Hampshire
Heart transplant recipient
Crochet for babies

“When my husband, Ed died I found myself needing to find a hobby to keep me busy. I bought my first camera and headed to the Grand Canyon. More than 7,000 pictures and 3 cameras later photography has become a passion. Now when I feel the need to relieve stress or be creative I head out with my camera to capture all of the beauty that surrounds us.”

Wanda Murray of Connecticut
Organ and tissue donor spouse
Photography collection

“When my husband, Ed died I found myself needing to find a hobby to keep me busy. I bought my first camera and headed to the Grand Canyon. More than 7,000 pictures and 3 cameras later photography has become a passion. Now when I feel the need to relieve stress or be creative I head out with my camera to capture all of the beauty that surrounds us.”

Wanda Murray of Connecticut
Organ and tissue donor spouse
Photography collection

"Before receiving my kidney transplant I spent three years and three months on dialysis. To relieve the stress during the 3-4 hour dialysis sessions I would plan my paintings and prints. I enjoy combinging techniques and images to create one of a kind images or monotypes. The title of this artwork refers to the insect images that are collaged onto the print. I transferred the drawings I had made in Jr. High School representing each animal phylum to paper and with gum arabic. The spider web is created using a hot glue gun In the printmaking technique I used oil paints to paint an image on a plexiglass plate, put a piece of acid-free printing paper on it and run it through a printing press. The image appears on the paper in the reverse. Because most of the paint is transferred, there is not possibilty of a second print. It is therefore called a monotpye and is unique."

Miriam Gilman of Massachusetts
Kidney transplant recipient
"A Bug’s Life II" monotype

“My younger sister, Amanda, died tragically in an automobile accident. In her life, she made choices that would positively affect other people; spring breaks doing Habitat for Humanity, demonstrating for homeless rights, going to college to earn her nursing degree. In her death, she continued making choices to positively affect others…she chose to be an organ and tissue donor. My sister is a Life Saver. To honor my sister, I have become an active volunteer promoting organ and tissue donation. With some friends I have met through my volunteering, we made a tiled mirror…allowing YOU to reflect… Will you make the same decision my sister did? Will you choose to give life to others? The following people painted tiles for our mirror: Patsy Twohill – heart recipient, Rich Twohill – husband + spouse of a heart recipient, Sheryl Hollyday – organ procurement nurse + volunteer, Tom Hollyday – registered organ and tissue donor, Lisa Slinsky – donor wife + volunteer, Kurt Schumer – registered organ and tissue donor, Cheryl Edwards – organ procurement nurse + volunteer, Hunter Smith – donor husband + volunteer, Iva Ribiero – living kidney donor (to brother), Jorge Pinto – kidney recipient (from sister, Iva) and volunteer, Joanne Pinto – wife + spouse of a kidney recipient + volunteer, Eric Mull – supporter of donor sister + volunteer, Kari Mull – donor sister + volunteer.

Kari Mull of Connecticut
Tissue donor sister
Tiled Mirror

“When my son, Bob died we donated his kidneys and corneas, which helped four people. On the 2nd anniversary of his death I took a jewelry beading class. I made this jewelry to remember Bob. The blue and green beads represent the ‘Donate Life’ colors. The butterflies represent donation and the turquoise beads were one of Bob’s favorite colors. The angel, of course, is Bob!”

Pat Schmidt of New Hampshire
Organ and tissue donor mom
Donate Life beads

“When my son, Bob died we donated his kidneys and corneas, which helped four people. On the 2nd anniversary of his death I took a jewelry beading class. I made this jewelry to remember Bob. The blue and green beads represent the ‘Donate Life’ colors. The butterflies represent donation and the turquoise beads were one of Bob’s favorite colors. The angel, of course, is Bob!”

Pat Schmidt of New Hampshire
Organ and tissue donor mom
Donate Life beads

Memoir: Arlene’s experiences throughout her transplant journey.

Arlene Swirsky of Massachusetts
Kidney transplant recipient
Memoir: Arlene’s experiences throughout her transplant journey.

Plain Vanilla with Rainbow Sprinkles by Tom and Joanne Kasprzak of Connecticut

Tom and Joanne Kasprzak of Connecticut
Organ and tissue donor parents
“Plain Vanilla with Rainbow Sprinkles”: A donor family’s story; an inspirational story of faith, hope and love.

The pioneering living kidney donor operation was carried out between twin brothers in Boston, MA in 1954. This print was generously donated by Carla Cutting, New England Organ Bank Donation Coordinator

Print: The First Successful Kidney Transplantation, 1996 Joel Babb (1947 - )

Oil on canvas 70 x 88 inches, Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. (Courtesy of Babb J, Buckfield, ME).

Laura Linehan painted this picture for her mom for mother’s day when she was in preschool. Encore Magazine selected it for their cover in the fall of 1992. “Laura had a liver transplant at the age of 2. At the time of her transplant she received blood infected with Hepatitis C. She did remarkably well for many years but lost her battle with liver disease on April 4th, 2008 at the age of 20. Until her death, Laura always loved to draw and color during her hospital admissions. Laura will be remembered for her smile and vivacious personality.”

“Mother’s Day Picture”, painted by Laura Linehan
Submitted by Laura’s mom, Ann Linehan of Massachusetts

“I received my heart-double lung transplant on March 17, 2007. My previous job had been Senior Graphic Designer for a large company in Florida. This piece represents the international factor of transplantation. Like many other conditions and diseases the effects of transplantation shows no boundaries. This aspect was very apparent to me while I waited for my transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.”

“Jonathan Bowering of Massachusetts
Heart-double lung transplant recipient
Donate Life poster

As a young adult, Gerry Fellows began his career as an iron worker. Known for his strength and determination, he also had an artistic side, which can be seen from his paintings, a hobby that Gerry has enjoyed for the last 50 years. In 1967, everything changed when Gerry took a fall at work and had to undergo emergency surgery. Surgeons had to remove Gerry’s spleen, which had burst from the fall, and after multiple blood transfusions during the procedure, Gerry developed Hepatitis C. Soon after, cancer also moved in and all the medications that Gerry had been prescribed made him so ill, he couldn’t even lift a paintbrush. All that changed when Gerry came to the Transplant Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He was immediately put on the liver transplant waiting list, and in July 2004, he received his new liver. Not only did Gerry return to health after the transplant, but he was able to pick up his paint brushes again and return to the canvas. Grateful for the way he was treated by the entire staff at BIDMC and the outcome of his transplant, Gerry knows that “Every day is a gift.”

Gerry Fellows of Massachusetts
Liver transplant recipient

Mosaic green ribbon by Mindy Scharlin of Massachusetts

Mindy Scharlin of Massachusetts
Transplant Administrator
Mosaic green ribbon

” I am SO PROUD of this book! After working on several drafts, several attempts at a book about my life story since 1998, this book is finally the one that was meant to be written and shared. Based on life stories I have lived and life principles I have learned along the way. This is a guidebook, my gift to you. It is my hope it will inspire and empower every person who reads it. It is “me” and “my journey” and I hope you will find your own spark within after reading how I kept mine going. We ALL have obstacles in life to overcome and we ALL have dreams and goals, a purpose in life to achieve. It will be my true honor to help you believe in yourself and empower yourself for yours through my story. I know you can do anything you want to do….now it is your time to know it too. I believe this book will help you begin to believe…”

Dottie Lessard of Massachusetts
Double lung and kidney transplant recipient
“Seven Letters that Saved My Life”

“Life for Eric and I has not been the same. We have a new chance at life! I say we because through going through this transplant experience with him I have heard some good sayings, one of which is “to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world” which, if you look through the eyes of my children now ages 10, 4, and 4, as well as myself, that is so true. My husband is our world. And the other saying that sticks in my mind is “living donation doesn’t affect one life, but many lives” because friends, loved ones, family & the entire community came through for us! We have made friendships, that are now strong bonds, that I would have never have made without this experience. Though this was a very tough lesson that we learned from god, we will never stop being grateful for what we now have, EACH OTHER.“

Christine Walker of Massachusetts
Spouse of kidney transplant recipient
Photographs: Trip to Vermont and the Berkshires

“This heart is called LIFE, and was painted by my daughter Joni when I had my heart transplant in 2008. The symbol in the middle is a “Chai”, the Hebrew word that means ‘Life’. The quote around the heart is from the Talmud and has been my life’s philosophy as long as I can remember. My other daughter, Beth, had this very image tattooed over her heart while I was in surgery. !!! So you see, there is a great deal of meaning in this one small piece of art.”

Joni Crothers, submitted by Jackie Crothers of Massachusetts
Heart transplant recipient
Print: Life

Jason wanted to be an organ donor; he informed his mom and it was on his license, less than a month before he was accidently struck and killed by an automobile while living in Seattle, WA at the age of 26. Jason’s heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas were all successfully transplanted to recipients living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The photograph was taken by a life-long friend of Jason’s originally from Massachusetts and now residing in Seattle. Ian Mackie is a professional photographer and owner of Mackie Images located in Seattle. Jason was cremated and his ashes were spread on Reflection Lake on Mt. Rainier on September 21, 2002.

Mt. Rainier Photograph, by Ian Mackie
Submitted by Joan Crowley of Massachusetts, donor mom
In memory of her son, Jason Crowley, July 11, 1976 to August 2, 2002

“I learned to crochet after my kidney transplant in August of 1998 at Rhode Island Hospital. I now make hats and blankets and donate them to UMass Memorial for premature babies.”

Penny Brown of Massachusetts
Kidney transplant recipient
Quilt: "Hearts"

In Me by Martha Black

Martha Black
Kidney transplant recipient
Poem: In Me

Unknown Donor by John Savage Witham

John Savage Witham
Liver transplant recipient
Poem: Unknown Donor

Poem by Kari A. Mull

Kari A. Mull
Donor sister

“I took my first painting course after my father donated a kidney to me in 1994. I had been working in the investment industry for 11 years, and after going through such a life-changing event, wanted to do something that was both relaxing and fun. I have painted children’s furniture, wall murals, and floor cloths in the past but especially love painting on canvas. I find it most rewarding when I donate my paintings to charity events.”

Maria Flannery
Kidney transplant recipient, 1994 Transplant candidate, (2nd) kidney and pancreas transplant