140 characters at a time, users of the popular social networking site Twitter were given a live, inside look at a kidney transplant at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The Twittercast was an effort to increase awareness about the importance of organ donations.
IU Health public relations staff provided regular updates as doctors performed the transplant surgeries. Entries on the Twitter feed included photos from the operating rooms and answers to questions posed by other Twitter users.
Doctor William Goggins performed the surgery that placed the kidney from the donor into the recipient. He says the Twittercast was not disruptive because he is used to having medical and nursing students in the room during his surgeries.
“I’m always answering questions or explaining what I’m doing to try to educate people involved in the surgical process so it really was sort of a normal day,” he says.
Goggins says using Twitter to provide live updates of the surgery was meant to teach people – particularly younger people –about organ donation. And he says this first Twittercast may not be the last.
“If we see an increase in the number of people coming forward to be living donors, I think if it is successful and we see that, then I think it’s something we certainly might entertain again,” he says.
Goggins says both the donor and recipient surgeries went well and the patients are expected to have full recoveries.