IU Health Live Tweeted a Living Kidney Donor Surgery!

At today’s PRSA Hoosier luncheon, we heard from Kristofer Karol and Gene Ford, who discussed how they pulled off Indiana’s first real-time transplant Twittercast.

Gene Ford speaking about the Twittercast with Kristofer Karol at the PRSA Hoosier November luncheon

In efforts to raise awareness about organ donation and organ transplants, they decided to tweet highlights, during an actual living kidney donor transplant. Tweeting the live surgery was a little bit risky, a lot outside the box and a huge success.

When they started planning for this, they anticipated it taking quite a bit of time before everything was in place to make this idea a reality.  However, there was a surgery scheduled sooner, so these guys had a lot to do in a little amount of time – 23 tasks in 9 days to be exact. These tasks included asking the patients to agree and sign the necessary documentation, informing the doctors and hospital staff, speaking with attorneys to make sure they were doing things in an ethical and legal way, among numerous other things.

Some background: Caleb Johnson was speaking with his friend, Colin Newton, over dinner about his need for a kidney transplant, when Colin offered to be his donor. At IU Health, kidney transplants are done frequently, and as far as surgeries go, usually one of the safest procedures. This was one of the reasons that Karol and Ford chose to highlight this specific type of surgery.

Caleb Johnson and best friend/kidney donor, Colin Newton

Karol and Ford had a lot to consider before implementing this Twittercast. For instance, what if something unexpected does happen? Or, worst case scenario, what if something goes wrong? While there is typically little risk involved in this type of surgery they still had to be prepared for anything. Fortunately, they did not need to use any premeditated crisis management strategies.

This Twittercast far surpassed all expected outcomes. The team predicted they would receive about 500 new twitter followers and 50 mentions or re-tweets. In actuality  they got just under 1,400 new followers and over 1,700 mentions/re-tweets, as well as over 100 media placements!

Click here to learn more about organ donation and Caleb’s story on the IU Health Website. 

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