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Field Notes
human heart ready for transplant
Photograph by Robert Clark
Robert Clark

What was your best experience during this assignment?

I enjoyed meeting people such as Danuel Allen and his wife, Sharon. I met him after he received an artificial heart. A couple of weeks later, he received a human heart. Unfortunately, his body rejected the organ and he died from a staph infection. It’s sad that the transplant didn’t work for him, but he was grateful for the extra days he lived. He was a very sweet man who was able to say goodbye to all the people he cared about.

What was your worst experience during this assignment?

The logistics of having to travel with so much equipment are stressful, mainly wondering if everything is going to show up at its destination. I did a story in Haiti once, and everything arrived except my light stands and tripods. So I made light stands out of wood and drove them into the ground. I was just as concerned about equipment during this assignment.

What was the oddest experience that you encountered during this assignment?

Around 4 a.m., doctors at a Badenhausen, Germany, hospital were preparing to do a heart transplant. Medical staff wheeled in this human heart in a box and pulled the plastic cover off. It was beating outside a body. My assistant and I were getting ready for the shoot when the heart surgeon leaned in and said, “You have three minutes.” I turned around and there were maybe 18 people waiting for me to finish photographing so they could do the transplant. In that moment, I realized how lucky I am to have this job. Very few people would have had that kind of opportunity.