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Student Notebook

Child with Kwashiorkor

"Child with Kwashiorkor"
An intaglio etching by Daniel Kaser

"During the summer of 2005, I worked in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, at the DarDar infectious disease clinic. On weekends, I'd travel to the outskirts of the city into small villages often untouched by electricity, outside trade, or medical care. In one village, I saw a child with kwashiorkor for the first time. I still remember his face. Kwashiorkor is a type of malnutrition caused by severe protein deficiency. It is marked by peripheral edema, lethargy, changes in skin and hair pigmentation, and failure to thrive. Typically, the syndrome is found in young children after they've been weaned from breast milk. I created this image a few months later, while I was on leave from medical school studying printmaking at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan. It is an intaglio etching, made by engraving a zinc plate and immersing it an acid bath. Ink is then applied to the plate, and the image is transferred to paper in a mechanical press. The piece serves as a reminder of the children I saw in rural Tanzania. It is both humbling and inspirational and ensures that I will not forget the face of preventable disease abroad."

Dan Kaser wrote the reflection above in the fall of 2006, as he was beginning his second year of studies in the M.D. program at Dartmouth Medical School. He is also head of the Medical School's Arts and Humanities Council and a member of the Editorial Board for Dartmouth Medicine magazine. In addition, he recently received a fellowship from the Schweitzer Foundation to develop an arts-based curriculum at Dartmouth Medical School.

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