Renowned photojournalist and filmmaker Ed Kashi will receive the ASN President's Medal during the opening plenary on Thursday, November 2, in recognition of his work that raises awareness about chronic kidney disease from undetermined causes (CKDu).
ASN presents this medal to individuals who have advanced the society's mission to fight against kidney diseases by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating for patients.
Kashi became interested in CKDu when he learned that in recent years, young people—primarily agricultural workers from hot, rural, resource-limited parts of the world—have been arriving at clinics with advanced stages of kidney failure. Thousands of people in locations, such as Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Peru, and India, are dying from CKDu—and its incidence is increasing faster than any disease other than HIV.
He has spent the past 5 years documenting the effects of CKDu around the world. Research implicates climate change as an important contributor to its rise because repeated dehydration, severe heat, and environmental toxins are the likely factors in the rising death toll among sugarcane workers.
“Given the lack of medical attention, CKDnT [CKD of non-traditional origin] is devastating communities, families, and individuals who are caught between precarious work, inactive governments, abusive employers, and inhuman labor practices,” Kashi says.
In the short film, With Every Breath, Kashi and his colleague Tom Laffay highlight the experience of a young woman living with the disease in Peru who faces pain, fear, and the reality of being dependent on dialysis for the rest of her life.
Another short film, Hidden Under the Indian Sun, follows a young student in southeastern India whose dreams of becoming an engineer are threatened by her duty to care for her father who is on dialysis and is unable to work digging wells since being diagnosed with CKDu. Furthermore, Under Cane takes viewers to a town in Nicaragua where one-third of the men, mostly those who harvest sugarcane, have end stage kidney disease.
Kashi has covered topics as diverse as the impact of oil in Nigeria, the Protestant community in Northern Ireland, Jewish settlers in the West Bank, an aging society, climate change, and the plight of Syrian refugees. His work has been published and exhibited worldwide and received numerous awards.
A sensitive eye and an intimate and compassionate relationship with his subjects are signatures of his intense and unsparing work. “I take on issues that stir my passions about the state of humanity and our world, and I deeply believe in the power of images to change people's minds,” he says.