Doctor Diagnoses Leukemia Via Facebook, Saves Four-Year-Old Boy's Life

Illustration for article titled Doctor Diagnoses Leukemia Via Facebook, Saves Four-Year-Old Boys Life

The smiling folks in the photos above? Those are four-year-old Ted and his father Phillip Rice. They're happy because—thanks to Facebook and a doctor friend—Ted's acute lymphocytic leukemia was diagnosed early in its progression and he's been able to receive the chemotherapy treatment he needs.

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You see, apparently Ted had been feeling under the weather and suffering from odd bruising and nosebleeds for a while when his parents noticed a peculiar rash developing on his face. For whatever reason they decided to snap a photo of it and send it to a doctor friend via Facebook:

After asking a few questions, Dr. Sara Barton, Rice's co-worker at Salford Royal Hospital in England, told him to get Ted to the medical facility right away. Dr. Barton said the rash was a symptom of what turned out to be Tim's diagnosis: Acute lymphocytic leukemia.

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Once the health issue was diagnosed, things started looking up:

Since the diagnosis was confirmed three months ago, Ted has had daily chemotherapy treatments. His pop Philip has shaved his head in solidarity with Ted's chemo-related hair loss. And while the boy currently needs a wheelchair to get around, his parents hope he'll be well enough to attend pre-school.

Now, while I'm most definitely glad that this boy was diagnosed properly and has a fighting chance, I truly am concerned that his parents chose to send someone a photo via Facebook instead of actually taking their son to a doctor's office. People on the Internet should not be used as a replacement for proper visits with medical professionals and proper examinations. [Daily Mail via Digital Life]

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DISCUSSION

Have you actually gone to a doctor's office recently? At my last primary care clinic, appointments were generally a month away, and then you'd get turfed with absolutely ridiculous diagnoses and just have to spin around and go back a few months later.

Once, on a two week bounce-back visit, the resident said "yeah, that definitely sounds like it was actually pneumonia, and we probably missed it, but you're getting over it now..."

If you know a competent physician and can send them a quick snap, it *hardly* seems like it does any harm. How can we pimp telepresence diagnosis for developing nations on the one hand and then chastise parents for sending away images for a quick look on the other?

You want to be the parents pulling a 10 hour wait at the ER for what may be a simple viral infection that can be easily diagnosed from a photograph? No competent physician is going to go out on a limb and make a call if they can't be fairly confident, so give the false worry a rest.

It's tired, like the persistent complaints about the admittedly horrific new site layout.