A mother believes that posting a photo of her sick son on Facebook may have saved his life.
Deborah Copaken Kogan wrote about her 4-year-old son, Leo, being diagnosed with scarlet fever, his temperature rising and his face swelling on Slate. She also sent a photo to her Facebook account with the caption, "Swelling worse, especially eyes and chin. Fever still crazy high. Poor baby."
Was I consciously trying to find an answer out there in the hive mind? No, but some subconscious part of me must have been wondering whether one of my hundreds of "friends" might be privy to some expertise on the befuddling Nutty Professor syndrome that had my child in its grips.
Ten minutes later, I received a call on my cell phone from Stephanie, a film actress and former neighbor. "I hope you'll excuse me for butting in," she said, "But you have to get to the hospital. Now." Her son Max had had the exact same symptoms, and was hospitalized for Kawasaki disease, a rare and sometimes fatal auto-immune disorder that attacks the coronary arteries surrounding the heart. "The longer you wait," she said, "the worse the damage."
Two other friends, both doctors, also urged Kogan to take her son to the hospital immediately, which eventually she did -- and found out her son did have Kawasaki's disease and Kawasaki-triggered liver disease. Leo is now much improved, but likely will carry a higher risk of heart attack for the rest of his life.
We found Kogan's story moving because she realized that Facebook is, indeed, a community. While it may seem like a somewhat useless group of friends, family and acquaintances, that "hive mind" can be helpful when several brains are better than just one.