Surgeon's Heartwarming Tweet About Seeing Former Patient Goes Viral

A difficult day turned around for Dr. Dinee Simpson after she unexpectedly ran into a former patient of hers when she grabbed some coffee, as detailed in a now-viral tweet.

"Woman next to me stared at my ID badge and started to cry," read Simpson's tweet, which has more than 272,000 likes at the time of publication. "I did her liver transplant last year, she was so sick then. Today she had her hair did, makeup on, and looked FABULOUS."

The two caught up as they were waiting for their orders before Simpson was due to perform surgery that day. What she thought was a quick tweet about a happy reunion with a former patient led to thousands of reactions.

A nurse told Simpson that her phone received a number of notifications while she was performing surgery, but it wasn't until Simpson had the chance to look at her phone herself that she realized her tweet had taken off.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is crazy,'" she told Newsweek. "Then I just watched it grow, and it was insane."

Simpson works with Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, and has worked in the transplantation field since 2015. Transplant surgeons first go through training in general surgery, and Simpson did hers at Harvard.

After nine years at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School, Simpson went on to complete a two-year specialty training program for transplantation.

In addition to working as a transplant surgeon for livers and kidneys, Simpson does outreach on this topic.

"I actually founded a program at Northwestern called the African American Transplant Access Program because data shows that Black patients are much less likely to have access to transplants," she said.

Simpson said people have been scared away from organ donation but explained it allows others to have a second chance at life.

Surgical Tools
A transplant surgeon shared that she ran into a former patient of hers in a now-viral tweet. Here, a stock image of surgical instruments. nimon_t/iStock

After she posted her tweet, Simpson said she received comments from people commending her and calling her a hero. However, she said the heroes are the donors who make these surgeries possible from the start.

These surgeries and transplants can carry a mix of emotions.

"You're turning someone's grief into somebody's hope," Simpson said. "So, it's really charged with a lot of emotion."

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, more than 100,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list.

The agency named the kidney as the organ that the most number of people are waiting for as of February 2022, followed by the liver and the heart.

In addition to saving lives, a donation has the ability to enhance others.

Simpson explained that just one organ donor can impact patients who need a heart transplant, lung transplants, a kidney transplant and more.

"Being an organ donor is an incredibly heroic move," Simpson said. "The surgical team can't do anything unless we have the gift of somebody's donated organ."

Simpson's patient—and many others—have been gifted the opportunity to live a healthier life because of organ donors.

"This is a procedure that gets somebody back to living their life to its fullest," Simpson said.

It had been some time since Simpson last saw her patient before seeing her while getting coffee.

She said that she'll see patients right after surgery and, if possible, she will stop in to see patients while they are still in the hospital.

Simpson runs a clinic for patients who have undergone transplant surgeries, but this particular patient was unable to make it. She saw that patient one or two times following the surgery.

Since sharing the tweet, Simpson said she was overwhelmed by the number of positive responses. Many even shared their own transplant stories.

"It was really beautiful to see social media working in a positive way, to spread good news and to connect people with their stories and experiences," Simpson said.

Some commenters asked why Simpson pointed out that her former patient was wearing makeup and had her hair done.

"It was self-care and it was shown that she was thriving," she said. "She wasn't just getting by, she was thriving and living her best life, and I love that."