Your Facebook Friends Could Save Your Child's Life

Family Matters on 07.21.11
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Photo: sfxeric / Creative Commons

When we become parents, our perspective of the internet can morph suddenly from surfing-happy-fun-time to fearing the digital menace. It seems like over night, access to the internet becomes a dangerous portal to the world of inappropriate content, predators, and bullies to our children. However, there is a positive movement underfoot: the internet is saving lives.

There's the tale of Deborah Copaken Kogan, a 16-year-veteran mother who wrote the story of how her 4-year-old son's life was saved by the internet.

There was the email campaign to a top surgeon to perform a risky double-lung transplant that ultimately saved the life of Jim Gilliam, CEO of 3dna.

If you google "facebook kidney donor" you will see story after story of men and women who were in dire need of kidneys, but whose lives were saved after they connected with compassionate organ donors via the social media site.

A Son in Jeopardy: Facebook Saves the Day

In Deborah's case, what started as a light-hearted post on her Facebook wall about a Sunday visit to the pediatrician's office, over the following days devolved into more wall posts and photos exposing the alarming details of her son's deteriorating condition.

As a result of her Facebook posts, Deborah received phone calls and private messages, one from a mother whose son had fallen similarly ill, another from a pediatrician and yet another from a pediatric cardiologist, all telling her to rush her son to the hospital to get treated for Kawasaki disease, a life-threatening auto-immune disorder that severely damages the heart if not treated quickly.

Deborah writes:

"Facebook transformed from my son's inadvertent lifesaver to the most valuable tool in my arsenal: to keep family and friends abreast of his ever-mutating condition without having to steal time and emotional energy away from him; to pepper both Beth, the pediatrician, and Emily, the pediatric cardiologist, with an endless series of random questions with which I was too embarrassed to bother my own doctors; 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."

A Life-Saving Email Campaign Leads to New Lungs

In June at the Personal Democracy Forum, Jim Gilliam told his incredible and uplifting story about the life-saving and healing power of the internet. [I highly suggest you watch the video of his speech. If you aren't moved to tears, then you are a cold husk of a human being.]

Jim was diagnosed with Lymphoma when he was in college. He survived nine rounds of chemotherapy -- during which time he lost his mother to cancer and as a result, his faith in God. His cancer would return six months later, this time in his blood. The doctors found a bone marrow donor. After much pain, more chemotherapy and a lot of radiation, Jim received new bone marrow.

Years later, due to scarring in Jim's lungs from the radiation, Jim's survival rested on getting a double lung transplant. Jim didn't pass UCLA's screening process to get on the organ donor waitlist because it was deemed that his risk of dying in surgery was too high.

Jim was angry, he was dying, and he blogged about it. His blog post stirred up an enthusiastic email campaign that caused a UCLA surgeon to finally take his case.

However, there were more obstacles before Jim would finally get on the organ donor list: the insurance companies, the transplant board, more medical tests. Each hurdle was tackled by his email campaigning friends and strangers who read Jim's blog.

A year later, Jim was saved by a double-lung transplant, which never would have happened if it weren't for his blog posts and the resulting passionate emails sent on his behalf. His faith in God was restored, and now he says, because of the power of the connectedness of humanity, the internet is his religion.

Katie Morton is the founder of The Monarch Company. Get a FREE copy of her eBook, 10 Steps to a Blissful You, to get started on developing extraordinary willpower for life.

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