Paper Project #2 – Brainstorming


This photograph of Dr. Zbigniew Religa was taken after a 23 hour heart transplant, depicting a tired Religa watching the vital signs of his patient. As a doctor in Poland, a country that believed heart transplantation to be impossible, he was against the majority in deciding to try the transplant once given the okay in August of 1987. When he finished successfully, and the patient felt better than ever, he was the first to accomplish this in his country.

“I never let him out of my sight, never turned my back on him,” he says. “This was the payoff.” (

Religa was also the Head of Cardiovascular Surgery Clinic in Zabrze. The patient’s name was Tadeusz Zitkevits and he actually went on to outlive the doctor, who had lung cancer from his habit of cigarette smoking, proving the surgery’s success. National Geographic released this photo as one of the 100 most important pictures in history after American photographer James Lee Stanfilnt captured it. Stanfilnt was originally looking for an image that would show the critical state of Poland’s free health-care system, and he had bonded with Religa while being a quiet being in the surgeon’s operating room. Both the patient and the photographer attended Religa’s funeral in 2009.

Things that make the image have more meaning, help to narrate a story, and add drama:

  • Religa’s colleague sleeping in the corner
  • Blood on the ground
  • Mess of tangled cables
  • Outdated equipment
  • Dimmed lighting
  • Subject still on surgical table unconscious
  • Small, unprofessional looking room
  • Looks like the “calm after the storm”
  • Gaze- no one is looking at the camera, two are unconscious and the other seems to be preoccupied and unconcerned with the photographer


Paper Project #2 – Brainstorming

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