Dylan Contreras

September 12, 2023

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Dylan Contreras looks at the world through a new lens after receiving his new kidney–most days, through his camera lens.

As a teenager in Philadelphia, Dylan first turned to photography to escape the grueling dialysis treatments he underwent three to four times a week for up to four hours. He remembers being limited to just one water bottle per day, a consequence of those treatments.

Then, Dylan had what he now refers to as “a second birthday.” He received a life-saving kidney transplant thanks to a donor hero and their generous family and the dedicated staff at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. “I now have a second life and a meaningful life that wouldn’t have been achieved if not for that kidney,” Dylan says.

Without the burden of his illness and treatment, Dylan hit the streets of Philadelphia and began photographing his city’s skylines and landmarks. Now, Dylan has his own photography business, DC Productions, and the self-taught photographer attends the Community College of Philadelphia. He plans to matriculate to the University of Arts and pursue a photography degree.

In April of 2023, Dylan had a humbling and full-circle moment as he admired his photographs adorning the walls of a bereavement room in St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Many families seek solace in the room, and will have to consider whether to donate their loved one’s organs.

“I feel like that room can save a lot of lives,” Dylan says. “I’m very fortunate to be a part of that because the only reason I’m able to do all those things is because somebody said, ‘Hey I’m going to sign up today to become an organ donor.’”

Dylan also experienced another exciting moment made possible by organ donation when he threw out the first pitch during the Gift of Life Organ Donor Awareness Night at the Philadelphia Phillies in August 2023.

Through his advocacy and work as an photography artist, Dylan hopes to get other people to register as a donor. “I just wanted to help people out. One of the best ways I can think of is in a creative way. Everyone likes art. If that’s the best way I can show my support, then that’s what I will do.”

September is Hispanic Heritage Month, a special time to celebrate the organ and tissue donors and recipients in the Hispanic community.