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]
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.
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_ de donde sacaron esa info??? Puede informarme mas?
@cristi_enf que necesitan? Que le digo al ministro?
Luego Felipe Zúñiga (@felipezuniga_) was thankful:
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.
@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!
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
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
She added that it will be important to review the process so that the organ donation system can be streamlined with fewer major delays:
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: