Boy With Kawasaki Disease Owes His Life to Facebook

kawasaki disease facebook

Usually, I'm strongly in the "Don't share too much information on Facebook" camp. But this morning's tale of Deborah Copaken Kogan taking to the site to diagnose her sick son Leo changed my mind.

Kogan woke up on Mother's Day to find that her 4-year-old had a rash on his face. Her pediatrician treated him for strep and sent him home. Little did she know that Leo actually had a rare and dangerous illness called Kawasaki disease and Facebook would be the "doctor" to save him.


Leo's condition rapidly worsened. Frantic and looking for second opinions, Kogan began posting photos of her little boy on the social networking site.

An old friend responded, urging Kogan to get Leo to the hospital ASAP because he may have Kawasaki disease. She rushed him to the ER and sure enough, he was diagnosed with the potentially deadly illness. Because of that one mobile upload, Leo is alive and well today. 

Normally, I'd be the first to cry TMI. Sure, the site is a great way to connect with old friends. It's also a fun place to brag a little (i.e. OMG, LOOK! I'M IN VEGAS!). But using it to keep others updated on every move you make is not only annoying and egomaniacal, but a personal safety risk.

Although your "friends" may be the only ones seeing your daily updates, you never know who else may be sneaking a peek at your page. Posting too much about your life could open you and those in your circle to scam artists, spammers -- or worse.

We often forget that some of our Facebook "friends" aren't really friends at all, but randoms we might have accepted on a whim. Some of them might need to be unfriended fast.

So normally, I'd be critical of a situation like Kogan's. But she was desperate. She was also right. Right not to trust her doctors. Right to turn to her connections on Facebook for help.

Her story reminds me of the benefits of FB shares and status updates, and, yes, even (cautiously) using the Internet for medical advice. It also makes me think that what seems like Facebook TMI might not be after all. 

Did Kogan wade into TMI territory? Are there times you shouldn't click "share" on FB?

What Kogan's story from this morning's Today Show, here:

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Image via MSNBC

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