diagnosis

Doctor diagnoses boy's leukemia on Facebook

March 7, 2011 at 5:23 PM ET

via Daily Mail /
The photo Ted's father took on his mobile phone to show Dr. Sara Barton on Facebook.

Four-year-old Ted Rice was fast asleep the night before he had an appointment to see his family’s doctor, when he developed a rash his parents felt could not wait, reports the U.K. Daily Mail. 

Ted's parents made the appointment because of Ted’s recent lack of energy, but hoped their boy’s malaise, along with some bruises and nosebleeds, was connected to a string of birthday parties. But when the purple speckles appeared around Ted’s eyes, his father Philip, an anesthetic assistant, snapped a picture on his cell phone and posted it on Facebook to get immediate advice from a doctor friend. It wasn’t good.

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.

"I had that gut feeling when something is wrong," Ted’s dad Philip told the Daily Mail. "Looking back, in my heart of hearts, I knew what was going on but I was so frightened I couldn’t admit it to myself."

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. Philip and Ted’s mother, Sara, a midwife, told the Daily Mail that they are convinced the quick conversation with Dr. Barton over Facebook gave their boy a fighting chance.

Dr. Barton tells her story of the Facebook diagnosis on JustGiving.com, a fundraising website for the Rainbow Trust which helps support families like Ted's who are dealing with a life-threatening illness.

Last year, another toddler’s life was potentially saved when pediatrics nurse Nicola Sharp of England browsed friend Michelle Freeman's family photos on Facebook, and noticed a white reflection in the eye of Freeman’s two-year-old daughter, Grace. Recognizing the white spot to be a symptom of eye cancer, Sharp told Freeman to get Grace to the doctor, where the cancer was treated before it could spread.

And last month, U.K. surgeon Dr. Rahul Velineni diagnosed appendicitis from friend Peter Ball’s status update about stomach pains and trouble walking. Ball immediately saw a doctor at Dr. Velinei’s urgings, and his by-then perforated appendix was removed.

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