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Chile: Nurse Expedites Organ Transport Using Twitter

Cristina Bizama (@cristi_enf), a nurse at Talca hospital in Chile, has devised a way to speed up the transport of organs for transplant from Talca to the capital, Santiago, some 260 kilometers away (162 miles). It all started with a tweet sent the night of April 12, 2011:

Increíble, No existe forma de llevar 5 organos a scl [Santiago]

Incredible! There's no way to transport 5 organs to Santiago

According to the online daily El Dinamo [es] the nurse was referring to two kidneys, a liver, and a heart that were ready for transport to the capital but the means didn't exist to do it at that moment.

New wing of Talca Hospital (Flickr: Besser, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Action through tweets

The Twitter community sprang into immediate action.

One of the first users to raise the alarm was programmer Felipe Zúñiga who wrote to various media, entertainment and government Twitter accounts:

@felipezuniga_: En Talca hay 5 órganos listos para donación y la Fuerza Aérea no dispone de avión hasta mañana AM. Hagamos campaña…

@felipezuniga_: In Talca there are 5 donor organs ready for transplant and the Air Force [es] doesn't have a single plane available until tomorrow morning. Lets make people aware of this

Member of Parliament Rubilar (@karlarubilar) was one of the first people to respond to the call for action and followed up as can be seen in the following series of tweets (1, 2, 3):

@felipezuniga_ de donde sacaron esa info??? Puede informarme mas?

@felipezuniga_ where did you get this info??? Please tell me more?

@cristi_enf que necesitan? Que le digo al ministro?

@cristi_enf What do you need? I will tell the minister

@FelipefromChile super! Yo llame al ministro @allamand! Para que hablen con la Fach [Fuerza Aérea de Chile]

@FelipefromChile great! I called the minister @allamand! So that they'll talk with the Fach [Chilean Air Force]

Luego Felipe Zúñiga (@felipezuniga_) was thankful:

Me avisan q a través del Ministerio de Defensa se está coordinando el traslado de órganos. GRACIAS A TODOS!!!

They told me that through the Defense Minister's help the organ transport is being coordinated. THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!

However, the parliament member reported to El Dínamo [es] that both the Health Minister (Jaime Mañalich) and Defense Minister (Andrés Allamand) had been contacted, besides the transplant coordinator, within the hour that the organs became available. They planned for the organs to move the following day though this would have caused problems with compatibility tests for recipients.

One of those involved in the organ transport effort, Health Ministry nurse, Felipe Cortés (@FelipefromChile), related what happened on Twitter:

@FelipefromChile: @karlarubilar Yo trabajo para el Minsal [Ministerio de Salud] y estoy haciendo contactos para agilizar traslado. Gracias por apoyar con sus llamadas a Talca!

@FelipefromChile: @karlarubilar I work for MinSal [Health Ministry] and I am contacting people to make this organ transport happen. Thank you for the support with your calls to Talca!

Also he reported:

@FelipefromChile: A esta hora de la noche, coordinando con Enfermera de Procuramiento traslado de órganos de donante óptimo desde Talca a SCL @MarcelaAninat

@FelipefromChile: At this time of night, we're coordinating with the Procurement Nurse, the organ transport from the optimal donor in Talca to Santiago @MarcelaAninat

Finally an Air Force [es] plane was made available, but unfortunately because the Institute of Public Health [es] hadn't examined the organs, the transport could not take place until 8 am the next morning, April 13. El Dínamo [es] reported: “We are monitoring the situation through the night, including Minister Mañalich personally.”

Afterwards, parliament member Karla Rubilar (@karlarubilar) let it be known through Twitter:

@karlarubilar: El paciente está estable todo coordinado pa mañana 8 AM x corporacion trasplante. Habrá q evitar las deficiencias logísticas. @jmanalich

@karlarubilar: The patient is in stable condition, everything is prepared for tomorrow morning at 8 am through the Translplant Corporation. We will have to avoid these logistic deficiencies going forward. @jmanalich

She added that it will be important to review the process so that the organ donation system can be streamlined with fewer major delays:

@DanielCastell hay problemas mas allá del traslado. Hay q hacer una seria revisión. La corporacion trasplante no puede ser pariente pobre.

@DanielCastell there are more problems than just the organ transport. There should be a serious review of everything. The Transplant Corporation [es] cannot do a poor job.

After El Dinamo [es] reported on the incident, the Procurement Coordinator for National Transplant Corporation [es], Diego Buchuk, explained that the nurse who raised the problem to public attention on Twitter was not involved in the coordination that was already taking place to collect and transport the organs.

The call for help raised by Cristina Bizama and the later responses of the parliament members and ministers showed the power that exists in a social network like Twitter and the need to review the organ transport procedures.

The network CNN Chile [es] also reported the story, mentioning that this was a “good exercise of social networks”.

This tweet by Felipe Cortés (@FelipefromChile) perfectly summarizes what happened:

Se dan cuenta cómo UN TWEET puede salvar una vida? Cuidemos esta herramienta, gente. #Trasplante #DonaciondeOrganos

Do you realize that ONE TWEET can save a life? Let's take care of this tool, people. #Transplant #OrganDonation

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