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PhotoSensitive Picture Change - Baby Jesse

Bernard Weil - Team Editor - @bernardweil

When PhotoSensitive announced their latest exhibit called Picture Change, I had just completed a photo essay and video for the Star, with reporter Tim Alamenciak and photo editor Wanda Goodwin, documenting the plight of fourteen-month-old Jesse Arrigo, who is undergoing intense therapies, some controversial, following a drowning in a backyard pond in 2012. At the time, doctors said he would never walk, possibly be blind or deaf and have to be fed through tubes for the rest of his life. 

I witnessed change on several levels. First was the efforts of family and friends rallying behind Jesse's cause that is truly an inspirational example of the type of change that we as compassionate human beings must do to help one another. For Jesse's mother Kristin Arrigo, this change is for life.

It was also important for me to raise the issue, through my images, the need for change in our understanding of certain medical procedures not covered by OHIP. In this case, Baby Jesse has been undergoing hyperbaric chamber treatment, an hour a day, five days a week, at an enormous financial cost to the family. Despite warnings on Health Canada's website about this form of treatment, the family says Jesse's change has been dramatic, thanks in large part to the hyberbaric chamber treatment. The medical community agrees that more research is needed in this area.



Fourteen month old Jesse Arrigo and his mother Kristin lie quietly in a hyperbaric chamber at the Ontario Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Centre in Toronto. Jesse survived a near drowning in a backyard garden pond. From what the family has learned they are looking not at months, but years of therapy not covered by OHIP. Friends, family and the community have rallied behind Jesse's struggle, helping to raise funds for the many therapies required.

View video, Baby Jesse's Miracle.

Here are a few more images from the story:



After a busy morning of music and reading therapy, 14-month-old Jesse Arrigo takes a short nap with his mother Kristin, in her bed, located beside Jesse's hospital bed to the left. Jesse must undergo a variety of therapy treatments at Bloorview Hospital in Toronto, including music and reading.



Some therapies include stimulation through music. Playing guitar is Ellen Young, music therapy intern at Bloorview Hospital in Toronto. 



Jesse Arrigo leaves the Ontario Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Centre in Toronto with his mom Kristin as Jesse's grandfather Bob waves goodbye. This was Jesse's 45th visit to the centre and comes five days a week, at a cost of $180 per session.


The new exhibition produced by PhotoSensitive, Picture Change, will feature one photo from over 100 of the top Canadian photographers including several Toronto Star journalists. The exhibit is a body of work highlighting the way that photography can make a positive change in the world. It could be a photo that inspired action among the public, one that helped bring about a change in law or one that simply forced its viewers to re-think their preconceived ideas.  The exhibit opens Tuesday July 16th at 11 am at 200 Bay Street, at the Royal Bank Plaza Terrace.


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