Pediatric Transplant Patients Celebrate Gift of Life Through Art With Local Artist

Pediatric patients holding up artwork

For Donate Life Month, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health transplant patients exercised their creative muscles to collaborate on a piece that would celebrate the gift of donation and the gift of life.

The ambitious idea came from Joshua E. Gossett, administrative director of the Pediatric Transplant Center: Transplant patients from across the West Coast would each draw a figure to be included in a larger piece of art that was to hang in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

“It’s important for us at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health that the tremendous offering of organ donation be honored and acknowledged in a permanent way within the walls of our hospital,” says Gossett. “So I thought, what better way to do that than through the eyes of the children at our transplant programs that have received or will receive the gift of life.”

To do so involved gathering a team, starting with Antonia Dapena-Tretter, art curator at Stanford Children’s.

“There’s no better way to celebrate the gift of life than through art,” Dapena-Tretter says. “The process of artmaking nurtures participants intellectually, and in turn, the viewing of the finished product will lift the spirits of our patients and families during their stay at Packard Children’s. It’s a win-win, if you ask me!”

That’s where Brendon Metcalf, a local artist better known as Mr. B by his students, comes in. Dapena-Tretter had worked with him in the past on another project, and since he works frequently with children, she called on him to create this painting.

“Mr. B is a rare unicorn,” she explains. “He is a talented artist in his own right, but more importantly for this project, he can guide others to create their best art, too. Part artist, part educator, he balanced both the needs of our patient participants and my needs to create something beautiful for the onsite hospital community. It’s a pleasure to watch him work.”

Working with the Pediatric Transplant Center team and social workers Brittany Lawton and Alexandra Ho, Dapena-Tretter spread the word that they were looking for participants. Since it would all be virtual, she assembled art kits that were mailed to about a dozen patients who had signed up. From there, Metcalf held online cartooning workshops, where the patients had a chance to meet others who had gone through similar journeys and learn how to draw figures for the piece. The families then mailed the drawings back to Metcalf to put together on a canvas.

Looking at the individual pieces, you can see the unique artistic vision each patient brings. Metcalf also made sure to include pinwheels in the final piece, which highlight and represent pediatric patients who are still waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

Timelapse of the piece coming together

“I think investing in other people is one of the most fulfilling things you can do,” Metcalf adds. “People who have been through what they’ve been through, I’m very fortunate to create with them and put their work together. Giving back to those who have been through so much, at such a young age too, just is such a fulfilling thing to do. I’m very appreciative of this [opportunity]. The positive feedback coming from youth, you can’t put a price tag on that.”

The final canvas will be permanently installed in the hospital for past, present and future patients to see.


One Response to “Pediatric Transplant Patients Celebrate Gift of Life Through Art With Local Artist”

  1. Joshua Gossett

    I’m so incredibly proud of the work that these kids did and the recognition of organ donation by our amazing institution! Thank you to all that were involved!


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