Facebook Diagnosis Saves Boy's Life

Facebook photos helped in the diagnosis of a young boy's rare medical condition, saving his life.

We love seeing stories about Facebook helping save lives, and the latest such example is no exception.

Deborah Copaken Kogan chronicled on Slate how, through a series of photos the increasingly concerned mother posted (of her son’s eyes swollen shut, his chin and cheeks ballooned beyond recognition, his fever ever rising), her son’s rare condition was diagnosed — and he received the emergency medical care that saved his young life.

So, Kogan’s virtual friends looked at her posted photos, and commented on them. Isn’t this what true friends do? They listen. They pay attention. They tell you things you may not want to, but need to, hear.

Such as “Get to the hospital. Now,” as Kogan explains in the article she was told, over the phone, voice-to-voice by a friend in her network; this particular pal phoned out of deep concern.

Her own son’s symptoms had mirrored those of Kogan’s son, as described on Facebook. The friend wanted to share what she knew — that the condition it was discovered her son had was a rare, often missed and possibly fatal auto-immune disorder that damages arteries near the heart.

When another virtual friend, this time a pediatrician, chimed in, suggesting that the same condition might be to blame, Kogan writes that she was urged to action. She rushed her son to the hospital.

Her son was diagnosed with the disease, Kogan writes, and later, liver disease that had been brought about by the disease.

Kogan continued to post updates about her son’s condition. As she puts it, she posted on Facebook “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.”

There is no virtual in feelings of that magnitude. Perhaps just as in the real world, with your real life, and quote-unquote real friends, your Facebook friend network is what you make it. Accordingly, old adages apply: Choose your friends wisely. Put in as much as you expect to get out.

Readers, how have your Facebook friends helped you in daily life?