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Apr 26, 2011 8:56 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Artist Seeks Kidney Donation

Apr 26, 2011 4:53 PM

East Hampton artist David Gamble has led what he jokingly says, in his British accent, has been “a complicated life.”

Since the mid-1970s, his passion for photography has led the London-born Mr. Gamble across the globe, where he has worked for The New Yorker, Elle and Time-Life publications, winning prestigious awards for his work along the way—including the 1987 Grand Prix European Award naming him the best photographer in Europe, the 1989 World Press Award and the 1989 American Photography Award.

One of his signature photo sets, rare photos of the home of the late American artist Andy Warhol, is currently touring the United States and will be arriving at the Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton this May for an exhibition.

Local artist Eric Ernst, Mr. Gamble’s friend of more than 11 years, cofounded the Artists Secret Society—which promotes the works of local artists—alongside Mr. Gamble as a way to help up-and-coming local artists mix with veteran artists and promote the arts in East Hampton.

Of his friend, Mr. Ernst said, “The thing about David is that he has a unique ability to gauge and understand someone when he photographs them. He has the ability to get them to be themselves.”

Despite all that he has managed to do in his time, Mr. Gamble still believes he can do more. “I’m 58, yet my brain tells me that I’m 18,” he said.

His body, however, tells another story.

Mr. Gamble is currently battling polycystic kidney disease, a rare genetic affliction that affects one in 1,000 Americans. The disease, passed down through families, causes multiple cysts to form on kidneys, causing complications such as high blood pressure, anemia and, eventually, kidney failure. If one parent carries the gene, a child has a 50-percent chance of developing the disorder. Though medical treatment can ease the symptoms for a time, there is no cure for the formation or development of the cysts.

Mr. Gamble’s mother and brother both had the disease—which he likened to “having a sponge with holes as a kidney.”

Having battled the disease for more than 20 years, Mr. Gamble’s kidney function has deteriorated to the point where his kidneys are only 10 percent effective. Mr. Gamble will soon require dialysis in order to do the job of filtering impurities from his blood, work normally done more effectively by functioning kidneys, while he awaits a donor for a kidney transplant.

The thought of doing so, Mr. Gamble admitted, has been something rather unsettling for him.

“It’s been something of a psychological marker, the idea of being plugged into a machine 3½ hours a day for the rest of your life,” he said. “It isn’t something to look forward to, for sure. And without a kidney donor, one is just as likely to die on that machine anyway.”

While he is currently on an organ recipient list at The Weill Cornell Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York, the waiting list is long—one to five years.

A self-described independent man throughout his life, Mr. Gamble thought long and hard before he eventually decided to seek a willing kidney donor. “I’m sort of a private person, so the idea of asking for such a thing was very tough,” he said. “And the last thing I want is for someone to do something like that—something so big—on my account.”

He added, “[Agreeing to be an organ donor] is a big gift, and it means something special to a person who does that. It would be a gift that I would be very humble and thankful for the opportunity to receive.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Gamble continues to press on with other projects while battling his disease.

“It’s a tough place for me to be, but I have a philosophical mindset on these things,” he said. “I’m not going to be ruled by fear. So I just have to push forward and do what I can while hoping for the best.”

Those interested in being tested as potential kidney donors can contact Mr. Gamble via email at dmgamble@optonline.net.

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Mr Gamble I too have this disease PKD and am a kidne transplant recipient. I had a transplant 7 years ago and am currently having to have another one. I had the same kinds of fears you have about askin anyone but through it out to the universe and you will see there are many people who will step to help you. I pray that your journey is a short one and that you will be back to feeling better soon. God bless you and I'm praying for you.
By daastorr (3), Baiting Hollow on Apr 26, 11 10:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
I was just diagnosed with PKD myself. I"m 48 and am lucky enough that 70% of my kidneys are still functioning. God Bless both you "daastorr" and Mr. Gamble. Not too many people are aware of this devastating disease. Best to both of you.
By marybmary (53), east hampton on Apr 26, 11 10:52 AM
Thank you Mary. If you want to talk just email me at daastorr@aol.com. You are blessed that your kidneys are still working.
By daastorr (3), Baiting Hollow on Apr 27, 11 4:36 PM
God bless you mr. Gamble.
By razza5350 (1906), East Hampton on Apr 27, 11 12:26 AM
Just to clarify PKD is not a rare kidney disease. In the United States, about 600,000 people have PKD, and cystic disease is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure.
By daastorr (3), Baiting Hollow on Apr 27, 11 4:46 PM