“Through Their Eyes”: Patients Reflect on Illness Through Photography

Over the course of ten months, Stanford medical student Niisoja Torto worked with 10 of his fellow scholars in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program on a photo project called “Through Their Eyes.” The team collaborated with Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Child Life specialists to identify patient families to share their experiences, culminating in an exhibit on April 26 where attendees got a glimpse into what life is like for young patients.

Each of the 12 patient families borrowed a camera to capture some of their most meaningful moments at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Most had long hospital stays as they were hospitalized for complex conditions, such as cancer, or heart or lung disease.

Jocelyn took this photo of her 4-year-old Gabriel’s beloved stuffed panda bear, Baboo. It illustrates how they were feeling as Gabriel was receiving care: “It’s crazy because we have been in this room for four weeks…the view is helpful but the sad part is we can’t go out.”

Gabriel is now back home and overflowing with energy. Here he is showing Baboo their photo.

Tianna Williams told the audience at the event about the photos she took of her , Armaneigh, who has been in the hospital for the past eight months.

Armaneigh has been hooked up to a cardiac pump called a ventricular assist device while she waits for a donor heart. Tianna wanted to capture what days are like for her daughter at Packard Children’s.

Like most 17-month-olds, Armaneigh has a hard time sitting still during procedures. “Armaneigh was being difficult here. As you can see, she’s trying to hit the ultrasound technician,” Tianna said of the photo to chuckles from the audience. These pictures explain the emotional nuances that can’t be captured by traditional methods, such as electronic medical records.

Julyanna, 11, took dozens of photos for the project while recovering from a heart transplant.

Julyanna’s favorite photo is of a flight of orange-outlined hospital stairs. At the bottom, there’s a wheelchair that’s barely visible. She took this picture after climbing the stairs without assistance, an important task she had to complete before she could go home.

For the full story, please visit Scope: Photos shine a light on a pediatric medical experience


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