An Angus medical art student has used 3D modelling and animation to educate healthcare professionals and the wider public about a rare and debilitating kidney condition which put her in a wheelchair.
As part of the final project of her MSc Medical Art course at Dundee University, Caitlin La has developed the digital representation of the nephroptosis she battled for 18 months.
Her work is among dozens of exhibits in the online Duncan of Jordanstone Masters showcase which opens later this month.
Caitlin hopes her work will serve as a source of information for medical experts, and support for others struggling through the same health battle which left her in excruciating pain as medics struggled to source the problems.
In 2016, Caitlin was finally diagnosed with the condition, which causes the kidney to drop towards the pelvis when moving from lying down to upright.
It mainly affects young slim women and the majority don’t show any symptoms – but for some it can lead to crippling abdominal pain.
For several years, Caitlin, now 28, struggled to find a specialist with knowledge of her condition in order to receive a diagnosis. She used a variety of online support groups to get in contact with other nephroptosis patients.
Caitlin hopes her digital illustrations and animations of the kidneys will help patients and doctors understand the condition in more detail.
Originally from Arbroath, Caitlin said: “After losing a lot of weight due to another illness I began to unknowingly develop nephroptosis which left me debilitated for around a year and a half.
“I spent that time seeing countless doctors that were baffled by my symptoms and some even tried to dismiss my concerns.
“As my kidney dropped 8cm into my pelvis when I was upright, this caused constant abdominal pain until I could lie flat. It left me having to be pushed in a wheelchair if I wanted to move around,” she said.
“Not being believed by so many doctors was so frustrating for me and really motivated me to create a resource that would help others avoid this long and painful process.”
She eventually made contact with a London surgeon and underwent corrective surgery.
“Nephroptosis is still a misunderstood and unheard of condition within the medical field today, but it is my hope that I can help raise awareness of this rare condition to help others get the medical care they need,” she said.
Caitlin is currently undertaking an internship with the Royal College of Surgeons of England, creating medical illustrative content, the field in which her career ambitions lie.
The online Masters showcase is taking place in the absence of the annual Masters Show, which has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the launch event being streamed live on October 16.
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