Surgeons use Twitter during double-hand transplant at Jewish Hospital

Surgeons tweeted updates during a recent double hand transplant at Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center in Louisville. While the operation would be only the third double hand transplant in the U.S., it's probably the first accompanied by live tweeting.

Senior hand fellows, Dr. Christiana Savvidou and Dr. Ainhoa Costas-Chavarri, when not actively involved in the surgery, sat at a laptop just outside the operating suite and tweeted real-time updates during the procedure, according to a hospital press release. According to the Twitter feed, expert teams of hand surgeons rotated in and out of the operating room throughout the surgery.

The surgery, involving surgeons with Kleinert Kutz and Associates and the University of Louisville, began at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

It could last as long as 20 hours, according to the hospitals' Twitter feed.

For privacy reasons, the names of the donor and patient were not released, but WHAS11 reports that the Department of Defense was paying for the surgery. Martin Bonick, Jewish Hospital's CEO, told WHAS11 that the patient's family was in the waiting room reading the tweets during the surgery.

Some of the tweets from the surgeons read as follows:

[17 hours ago] "Preparation work identifying nerves and tendons in both left and right arms has begun."

[14 hours ago] "Continuing donor and recipient dissection tendon identification and nerve identification in both recipient hands. Going smoothly."

[13 hours ago] "Bone fixation going well in both hands."

[11 hours ago] "The connecting of the donor and recipient vessels (arteries and veins) is progressing very well in both hands."

[8 hours ago] "Both hands are now vascularized and we are approximately 3/4 of the way complete. All is progressing well."

[8 hours ago] "Tendon suturing nearing completion. Nerve repair to follow. This includes suturing nerves of each finger from donor to recipient."

[3 hours ago] "Surgeons are working on connecting nerves in the right hand from the donor to the recipient"

[3 hours ago] "Finishing right hand nerve repair. Due to new technique, this patient should have better feeling & motion than previous recipients"

[2 hours ago] "The left hand is now fully wrapped in surgical gauze and cotton padding."

[12 minutes ago] "Surgeons are starting to close up the right hand."

To learn more:
- see Jewish Hospital's Twitter feed or visit the related website on hand transplantation
- read the WHAS11 story
- here's the Louisville Courier-Journal story

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