Instagram isn’t just for making your daughter’s prom photo look like a dance party from the 70s. For one hospital, it was the perfect way to share pictures
of an open heart surgery.
In July, Michael Schmidt, director of digital media at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, took pictures of three-year-old Emily Stone’s open heart
surgery through Instagram on his iPhone.
The doctors sewed a Gore-Tex graft onto her heart, according to an
in the Orlando Sentinel. A lifelong patient of the hospital, Stone has a heart defect where her heart has only one chamber, instead of two.
Through streaming live her surgery, the hospital wanted to highlight its heart center and give people a behind-the-scenes look at its operating room,
Consistent live updates
Along with a member of his digital team, Schmidt posted updates with pictures every ten minutes on Twitter and,
once an hour on Facebook. He manually posted photos to the hospital’s blog, creating a live time line of the surgery. In eight hours, including prep time, the four-hour
surgery, and wrap up, Schmidt took 46 photos.
The live updates on the blog had an audience of 2,500 people. Since the day of the surgery and four days after, the hospital’s Facebook received more than
218,000 unique views of the photos and had 19,500 engaged users.
Schmidt read only one negative comment, which said that the surgery was too graphic.
“There were literally thousands of comments encouraging the family and wishing the little girl well,” Schmidt says.
Schmidt says at least six families commented that they now feel more assured about their children’s upcoming heart surgeries after watching it.
Inside the operating room
Before the surgery, Schmidt explained what they would be doing to Stone’s surgeon, Dr. William DeCampli, and the nurse manager, Patricia Siefert. During
the operation, Siefert narrated what was happening to Schmidt, step-by-step.
“Everyone in the operating room was anxious to help,” Schmidt says.
Schmidt says the hospital picked Emily and her family to feature because of their history with Arnold Palmer Hospital. The open heart surgery was Emily’s
third surgery with the hospital.
“What resonated the most with us was the family's desire to be part of a project like this,” Schmidt says. “The parents felt so strongly about doing
something to improve quality, first-hand information about pediatric heart surgery and what it’s like to go through as a family.”
Her mother found out about her daughter’s heart defect while she was pregnant. She told Schmidt that it was hard for her and her husband to find good
information on how other families dealt with it.
“The payoff for them is that some other family is going to see this and gain a better understanding of what their family is facing,” Schmidt says.
Regina Wood is an intern at Ragan Communications.