Ontario hospital broadcasts kidney transplant live on social media

Doctors live-streamed an organ transplant at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton. Photo from Peter Power/St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
Doctors live-streamed an organ transplant at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. Photo from Peter Power/St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

It’s a Canadian first: doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton recently broadcast a successful kidney transplant using Facebook Live.

The surgery took place on Wednesday as patient Bhargav Turaga received a kidney from his wife, Nagamani Turaga. The surgery aired live on Facebook and the hospital’s website and was also live-tweeted. Doctors took questions from the public as the surgery was happening, CTV reports.

Hospital staff organised the event in an effort to get the word out about the importance of kidneys and living donations and to demonstrate the science of organ transplants to the public.

At Hamilton’s Saltfleet District High School, some 300 students tuned in together to watch the procedure, reports the Toronto Star.

“It was really cool but a lot different then I thought it would be,” student Dimitri Knezevic told the Star. “There was barely any blood and they were so calm. On medical shows everything is hectic but it makes sense they were calm.”

For the couple going under the knife, sharing their surgeries with the world was a no-brainer. Both Bhargav and Nagamani work in information technology and believe that sharing their procedure will inform medical students and the public about kidney disease, donation and transplants, reports the Hamilton Spectator.

All the media attention also helped Bhargav with his pre-surgery jitters.

“I’m a nervous guy,” Bharav told the Spectator. “All these busy things going on make me not think about it.”

Luckily, the surgery went off without a hitch and the transplanted kidney began functioning normally almost immediately.

The live-stream was also a success, with more than 14,000 people watching the video, some from far beyond Canada’s borders. Facebook user Piercer Mark left the following comment:

Incredible, watched from London U.K as I am awaiting my transplant, so many answered questions so thank you to everyone involved in making this happen!”

For more information on organ transplants and donation in Canada, visit www.cantransplant.ca.