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Now live tweeting: Play-by-play of a kidney transplant

June 13, 2012|By Amy Hubbard
  • An Indiana hospital hopes to draw attention to the need for live kidney donors with a live tweet of a transplant: #calebskidney.
An Indiana hospital hopes to draw attention to the need for live kidney donors… (IU Health )

"#calebskidney is almost ready to arrive in Caleb's surgery room!"

So says a Twittercast of a kidney transplant now underway at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Kristofer Karol, public relations coordinator at Indiana University Health, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning that this isn't the first time a hospital has live tweeted a surgery -- laying bare on a social media platform what goes on behind the closed doors of an operating room -- but it's a first for Indiana.

"And, we believe it's the first time an adult hospital has live tweeted a kidney surgery in the U.S.," Karol said by email.

Surgeons are in the process of removing a kidney from Colin Newton, 33, for transplant in his friend Caleb Johnson.

According to the university, Johnson developed kidney failure from a fast-acting condition called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. It scars filters in the kidney so that they are unable to filter blood. 

Newton is a welder at an eastern Illinois refinery. He said in a news release: "I'm just glad to be able to help my buddy make it through the most difficult time in his life."

"We felt live-tweeting a surgery would be a great way to both educate the public about a sometimes misunderstood operation and to also raise awareness for the need of living organ donors," Karol told The Times.

More than 100,000 Americans are on the national waiting list for an organ, he said, and more than 90% of those need kidneys.

"Also, when we think of kidney donors, we often think of a sister, brother or relative donating to a family member; however, there is a need for those who are not relatives to donate as well," Karol said.

"Colin and Caleb are a great example of this, with one friend helping the other. Their story is touching and we hope others will follow suit."

Karol stopped his email short, saying, "The kidney just came in the OR for Caleb -- need to run!"

The story is unfolding now on Twitter at #calebskidney.

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Join Amy at Google+. Email: amy.hubbard@latimes.com

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