Last week Dr. Daniel McNeely sent out his very first tweet and the world responded. The IWK neurosurgeon had just completed repairing a shunt, a small tube that helps drain fluid and release pressure from the brain. Before calling it a day the doctor prepped for a second important surgery. As eight-year-old Jackson McKie, had headed into surgery that day, he had asked McNeely, one of his primary surgeons since birth, for a very special favour. His stuffed bear needed fixing as well. Would the doctor look after him?
Dr. McNeely took the time and care to ensure that Jackson’s wish was fulfilled. As the doctor repaired the bear with stitches left over from Jackson’s surgery a member of the surgical team suggested pictures to share with the boy as he recovered. Thinking the photos might make people smile Dr. McNeely shared them on a Twitter account he had opened in 2014 but never used.
On social media platforms good news travels much faster than bad. The simple tweet turned into a story and within twenty four hours the story had traveled around the world appearing in newspapers in Ireland, Turkey, Portugal, India and China. It was picked up in the UK by BBC and south of the border it appeared on CBS, Fox News, USA Today and People Magazine.
Stories like this play out every single day at the IWK. Sometimes they reach a large audience and sometimes they are that simple, special moment shared between caregiver and patient.
If there had been no camera to record the event, no twitter to share it on, no People Magazine to report the story, Dr. McNeely would still have picked up those surgical instruments. And that is what makes this story so special.