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As Time Runs Out:
The Steve Lessin Story

“As Time Runs Out” is an ethnographic documentary by the Center for Ethical Solutions. This documentary will be presented on its own and  is also part of an ongoing documentary being produced as part of the Center’s SOS (Solving the Organ Shortage) project. We are currently in post-production, seeking funding for the costs associated with finishing this documentary.


The film will tell the personal story of Steve Lessin: his struggle with kidney disease and what his life was like on dialysis.  This ethnographic documentary will explore the possible options and ethical solutions to easing, if not ending, the U.S. kidney shortage.

This documentary and project was developed to educate the general public about dialysis, kidney transplant options, and, how to extend and improve the lives of patients with end stage renal disease.

The following statement is from Sigrid Fry-Revere
(President and founder of the Center for Ethical Solutions) 

Steve became intimately involved in the Center’s SOS (Solving the Organ Shortage) project. He wanted to do what he could to help raise awareness of kidney disease and life on dialysis. Like most Americans, Steve became too sick to qualify for a transplant and was taken off the list before the average U.S. waiting time of five-years had passed. Steve’s quality of life had deteriorated to such an extent over his four years on dialysis that he considered taking his own life. For six months, Steve worked hard giving interviews, arranging for others to be interviewed, and trying to raise money for the Center’s educational video on end-stage-renal disease. Steve called me on the third of July and apologized for not getting more done to move the documentary project forward. I told him there was still time. Steve died on July 9th, 2009, just two days after stopping his dialysis treatment.

Steve’s story: Born in Brooklyn to a close Jewish family, he grew up with all the advantages being an American had to offer. Steve ran track in high school, went to State University College at New Paltz, New York, became an engineer, got married, and was an avid skier into his forties. For most of his life, Steve had managed his battle with diabetes, but in 2004, Steve lost his kidneys and despite his best effort to stay strong, while on dialysis and waiting for a kidney, Steve developed numerous complications. 

Steve tried to continue traveling and exercis-ing but became too sick to continue. Over a period of five years, Steve went from being an avid skier and seasoned traveler to someone who could barely climb a set of stairs.

“I thought I would continue,” said Steve, “but I’ve gotten sicker and sicker, and I could watch the decline….”



As the film progresses, you will get to know more about Steve, and more about his personal struggles with diabetes, renal failure, and dialysis. 

You’ll see moments with Steve and his best friend, Larry, as they share their heartwarming story about the kidney donation that Larry made to Steve and about the tragic day that Steve lost the kidney, leaving him to decline on dialysis and dealing with an emotional struggle that would eventually take its toll on Steve.

While Steve had his functioning transplant, he led a busy active life. He was learning to play jazz guitar, and worked out at the gym for at least an hour, five days a week. When Steve lost the kidney Larry had given him and went on dialysis, all that changed. Steve became too weak to ski or go to the gym. He could no long work full-time and traveling became almost impossible. His fingers became too weak to play guitar and stiffness and general malaise made everyday chores like shopping an ordeal involving the juggling of a cane, a backpack with medical supplies,  and carrying groceries.

Frustrated and angered by the situation in which he found himself, Steve decided to devote as much of the time he had left as possible to the Center for Ethical Solutions’ SOS Project.

Through Steve’s words, you will learn how he discovered his kidney disease and how over time he went from someone who was managing his disease, while continuing to work at his job, to someone who was struggling to stay alive at the age of 53.

Steve was loved and a good friend to many. We miss him greatly.


The Center for Ethical Solutions is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt charity dedicated to educating the public on patient-care issues in medicine. The Center's financial statement (990EZ IRS annual tax filling) is available upon written request from the Center or from the Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs.