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UW Health Photographer Honored by National Organization

Brayden Greiber, as photographed by John Maniaci

Madison, Wisconsin - When John Maniaci walked into Brayden Greiber's room at American Family Children's Hospital back in January 2011, a few things struck the UW Health photographer.

"I remember just how little he was, how vulnerable he looked - he had a breathing tube in his nose and his head was wrapped up," Maniaci said. "It's almost like a helpless feeling. You could see the concern on his parents' faces."

Brayden was just two weeks old when he was rushed to the hospital after an otherwise normal checkup with his pediatrician. As the appointment was wrapping up, the infant turned pale and his breathing decreased. A few hours later at the hospital, Brayden stopped breathing and he turned blue.

As is the case with many of his assignments, Maniaci faced a big question:

"How do you show that in an image?" he said of the emotional circumstances facing the Greiber family. "For me, it was getting in real close and seeing his little face and seeing that tube and seeing his mom's fingers in there. You realize how delicate the situation is."

Maniaci captured the situation perfectly, clicking a photo of Brayden's mother, Marisa, gently caressing her tiny son's face.

Now Maniaci's image will be seen by many more people, as it was one of 50 selected to be part of the biennial Children's Hospital Association Photo Exhibit organized by the National Association of Children's Hospital and Related Institutions (NACHRI). The exhibition debuts March 17-20 at the Creating Connections Conference in Anaheim, Calif., will be displayed on Capitol Hill during the Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day event in June and will travel to several children’s hospitals during the year.

Maniaci frequently meets people for the first time during difficult, emotional times, with their loved ones in need of medical treatment - as was the case with the Greiber family.

"It can be a challenge, but what helps is almost without exception, the families are happy to share their story," said Maniaci, who has been with UW Health since 2009 after more than 20 years as a newspaper photographer. "Families love the care they get at American Family Children's Hospital, and it's always a very welcome feeling.

"Certainly, there's a certain way you carry yourself and a certain way you act and a certain way you photograph, but I am always welcomed by the family, and that makes my job easier."

And he also gets plenty of opportunities to visit with families on the other end of the spectrum. For example, he visited the Greibers a few months later at their Sun Prairie home.

"We did some nice family photos. It was great," Maniaci said. "Brayden was like any other happy baby and his parents were relieved, there were no monitors and there were no IVs."

Despite taking thousands of photos over his career, Maniaci said he remembers most of the pictures he’s snapped. The work he does involving patients at American Family Children's Hospital has created especially vivid memories.

"Each kid is memorable, each kid has their own story," he said. "So it's not difficult to remember the people and the stories. I might not remember every name, but I remember the families and I remember the stories."

This is the second time Maniaci's work has been honored by NACHRI - in 2010, two of his photos were selected for the photo exhibit. He was awarded first place for a photograph of patient Tyler Degand, and sixth place for a photograph of 19-month-old Savannah McCoy.

"It's nice to receive recognition for the work that we do," Maniaci said. "For me, it's more important that the families are able to share these images - whenever we take pictures like these, we always share them with the families.

"And it's nice that the hospital gets recognized. ... Pictures of the kids and the staff, that's really the main thing, that people out there see that there are some incredible nurses and doctors at American Family Children's Hospital."


Date Published: 02/22/2013