Facebook Saves Life: another feather in its cap

by on July 15th, 2011

Social Media seems to be proving itself time and again, changing the perception that some people otherwise have about the good it can do. Facebook now has another feather in its cap.

Apart from shaping people’s career by helping to build contacts, being used as one of the most effective marketing tools, causing revolutionary changes for social causes like corruption and helped in the uprising of Egypt,

it has now become a hero by saving a little boy’s life from a rare disease known as “ Kawasaki disease”.

On Mother’s Day morning, Deborah Copaken Kogan’s 4-year-old son Leo woke up with a rash. She felt his forehead hot, and took him for a strep test. That’s when Facebook’s role began. She took a picture of her son while waiting for the test and posted it on Facebook with a message “Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day quite like a Sunday morning at the pediatrician’s.” Since the test did not show anything about his throat culture, she followed the medication prescribed for Leo and took him back home.

Leo’s condition worsened next morning and the doctor diagnosed it as scarlet fever. His mother posted another photo on Facebook with the caption: “Baby getting sicker. Eyes swollen shut. Fever rising. Penicillin not working. Might be scarlet fever. Or roseola. Or…???? Sigh.”

In less than three hours, several friends started commenting. The following day Leo’s face was swollen beyond recognition. Deborah took several photos from various angles to send to the family doctor via MMS, and posted a few on her page with the caption- “Swelling worse,” she wrote, “especially eyes and chin. Fever still crazy high. Poor baby.”

She received a call few minutes later, from her Facebook friend Stephanie, who happened to be her neighbor, saying “I hope you’ll excuse me for butting in but you have to get to the hospital right now. The longer you wait, the worse the damage”. Her son had suffered the same symptoms and been hospitalized for Kawasaki disease. Deborah surfed the net for details, and shockingly, Leo’s symptoms seemed to have matched perfectly. Several other of her friends also started sending her messages on facebook confirming the same.

She called her family doctor and briefed him on the updates and he said ““You know what? I was actually just thinking it could be Kawasaki disease,” he said. “Makes total sense. Bravo, Facebook.”

Leo underwent treatment for three weeks and then for a liver disease that Kawasaki had triggered. Once the job of helping in diagnosing the disease was completed by facebook, the next responsibility it took up was to keep family and friends updated about Leo’s progress. According to Deborah, “social network helped me to feel connected—profoundly connected—to the human race while living, breathing, eating and sleeping in the isolating, fluorescent-lit bubble of a children’s hospital ward, where any potential humans I might have ‘friended’ on our floor were too distraught over the fates of their own children to make any room in their hearts for strangers.”

This disease causes inflammation in the arteries all over the body, involves peeling skin and high fevers. The cause of this disease is still a mystery. Once the disease is recognized, treatment can be started immediately with aspirin, followed by a visit to the doctor.

Thanks to Facebook, little Leo is now safe and his mum can heave a sigh of relief.

It’s high time people start appreciating the new experiences social media has in store for us.

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