With over a billion narcissistic users on Facebook these days, flagrantly posting useless pictures or inviting you to events that you don’t want to attend, it’s nice to come across a few stories that showcase Facebook saving lives and not ruining them.
On July 15, 2015, 28-year-old Army veteran Chris Thomas, who is confined to a wheelchair with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, was heading to the bathroom in his Pittsburgh home when his wheelchair snagged the edge of a box, spilling the heavy shelving unit inside onto his legs. In a split second, the weight of the shelving unit tipped his wheelchair over. Thomas crashed to the floor where he hit his head hard against the linoleum and briefly lost consciousness.
When he awoke a few minutes later, his screams for help went unanswered at the assisted living facility where he lives. He was also unable to reach the string that activates the alarm for the facility’s guard. Even under the best circumstances, it would have been difficult for him to rise from the floor (as shown in the video above).
Fortunately, he could still get to his smartphone, which had the Facebook app open. After posting an incoherent status update—“I neet he kl p m==#]Please /fc” ‘ff: ‘ 933,91++”—Thomas slipped in and out of consciousness as he lay on the floor. But it was enough to alert his friends, who flew into action after seeing his message. “It was crazy, friends from six different states who didn’t know each other were connecting with each other to get me help,” Thomas told TODAY.com. “Now that’s the power of social media! You literally have hundreds of people at your fingertips.”
Amazingly, 12 of his Facebook friends hurried to his apartment and were there with the medical rescue team, who took Thomas to the hospital for treatment. After spending the night in the hospital, Thomas was well enough to go home the next day.
In March 2014, Tara Taylor posted a picture of her three-year-old daughter Rylee, dressed like a princess, on Facebook. In the picture, Rylee’s left eye was glowing. Most people thought it was caused by the flash from the camera, which certainly made sense because Tara didn’t notice anything wrong with her daughter. But Tara quickly received messages from two different Facebook friends, who were concerned that something might be wrong with Rylee’s eye.
Taking her friends’ advice, Tara took Rylee to her pediatrician, who referred the little girl to a retina specialist. The specialist discovered that Rylee had a rare eye condition called “Coats’ disease,” which can cause vision loss or blindness in one eye. Like many diseases, the earlier it’s treated, the better the expected outcome.
However, diagnosis of Coats’ disease in children can be difficult because young kids may not realize they’re losing their vision. The problem is usually discovered after the child has lost vision in both eyes. At that point, either the child or the parents realize that the child can’t see. In Rylee’s case, Tara didn’t notice any vision problems because her daughter was involved in gymnastics and didn’t sit close to the TV.
On February 26, 2015, 75-year-old Lois Shelton was walking in her kitchen and took a hard fall to the floor after tripping on some steps. Once on the floor, she couldn’t use her arm to help her get up. Unfortunately, her cell phone was in another room, so she couldn’t get to it.
Luckily for Shelton, she was only a few feet away from her computer, and her Facebook account was open. She dragged herself to the computer, pulled the keyboard down to the floor, and typed “HELP I NEED HELPIHAVE FALLEN.” Within minutes, people started commenting.
Shelton’s daughter-in-law saw the posting and called Shelton’s neighbors, who got into the house and found Shelton on the floor. After the neighbors called 911, Shelton was taken to the hospital and later released with severe bruising. Thankful for the help from her friends, she expressed concern that she might have lain on the floor for two weeks without Facebook.
In early April 2009, a 16-year-old boy in Oxfordshire, England, was talking on Facebook to a female friend who lived over 5,800 kilometers (3,600 mi) away in Maryland. The young man told his Facebook friend that he was going to kill himself. Worried, the Maryland teen told her mother what her friend had said.
Immediately, her mother telephoned their local police department for help. The Maryland police called a contact in the White House, who put them in touch with the British Embassy in Washington. From there, Scotland Yard was notified, followed by the police department that covered Oxfordshire.
With only the young man’s name and the knowledge that he attended school in Oxfordshire, the local police narrowed the boy’s possible location to eight houses. In the fourth house they visited, the police found the boy barely conscious from a drug overdose and rushed him to the hospital. There, just three hours after he sent his message, the teenage boy was revived, eventually making a full recovery.
Diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, Rick Fosnot of North Wales, Pennsylvania, underwent emergency surgery to have both kidneys removed. He was put on dialysis and a transplant donor list, but the waiting period for a transplant was expected to be six years.
While this was happening, Janine Pape-Sansom was looking up Fosnot on Facebook because she had known him when she was about 10 years old. Fosnot had been “the cool lifeguard” at the community pool where Pape-Sansom and her friends had hung out.
After hearing about his health problems, Pape-Sansom got tested and discovered she was a match. Although she hadn’t seen Fosnot in over 20 years, she surprised him by offering to donate her kidney to him. In June 2011, both went under the knife, and the surgery was a success. When asked why she would give Fosnot her kidney, Pape-Sansom said to her local NBC affiliate, “I just remember thinking, if my husband needed a kidney, I hoped someone else would come forward. And I figured I had an extra one. I didn’t need it.”
During a thunderstorm on June 10, 2014, Gregory Vance was sitting with two friends on the porch outside his house in Henlawson, West Virginia. Suddenly, a large tree was struck by lightning, causing it to fall on the three men. Gregory’s 10-year-old daughter Brianna wanted to get help for her father, but she couldn’t get cell reception because of the storm. The family had no landline.
Crying, Brianna recorded a short video of herself pleading for help. “The lightning crashed and hit a tree by our porch and my dad’s almost dead,” she said in her video. “He needs an ambulance please. Please call one for us if you have a signal. We live in a yellow house.”
After Brianna uploaded the video to Facebook, someone saw it and called 911. Rescue workers quickly arrived on the scene, freed the men, and rushed them to the hospital. All three men were treated for their injuries and eventually released.
In 2012, at about seven weeks old, Arianna Moore ran a high fever and was hospitalized in Pine City, Minnesota. After running some tests, doctors discovered that she had a rare disease that caused scarring on her kidneys and stopped them from working. Arianna was placed on dialysis for 10 hours a day, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. Both parents wanted to donate a kidney, but neither was a suitable match.
When Arianna was two years old, a family member made a plea on Facebook, asking if someone with type O blood would be willing to donate a kidney to Arianna. A short time later, Christy Harding of Jacksonville, Florida, saw the request on her Facebook News Feed. Having a two-year-old daughter of her own, Harding instantly empathized with the Moores. Fortunately, she also had type O blood.
Even though she was a complete stranger, Harding called the family and told them she would donate her kidney. On June 18, 2014, Arianna and Harding both went into surgery. The transplant was a success.
In the morning of Mother’s Day 2011, Deborah Kogan noticed that her four-year-old son Leo had a rash and mild fever. She took him to a clinic where he was given a rapid strep test. Although the results were negative, the doctor thought Leo looked like he had strep throat. Rather than wait a day or two for the results of a more precise throat culture, the doctor prescribed an antibiotic in case Leo did have strep and sent the boy home. The next day, Leo’s fever was worse, and his face was getting puffy. His family doctor thought it might be scarlet fever, but he wasn’t sure. He also sent Leo home.
On the third day, Leo woke up with his face more swollen. Deborah took pictures and sent them to the family doctor. She also posted a few of the photos on Facebook. Soon, a former neighbor Stephanie called, advising Deborah to get Leo to the hospital immediately. Leo appeared to have the same symptoms that Stephanie’s son had experienced a few years earlier from the possibly fatal autoimmune disease called “Kawasaki disease.”
This disease attacks the coronary arteries that surround the heart, causing more damage the longer the disease is left untreated. Deborah also received Facebook messages about Kawasaki disease from two other people, both of whom were pediatric doctors. One of them warned her that the heart can be damaged in as few as five days after symptoms begin. Leo had already been sick for three or four days at that point.
That was enough to spur Deborah to take Leo to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with and treated for Kawasaki disease. After being released from the hospital, Leo was diagnosed with Kawasaki-triggered liver disease but recovered from that as well.
On Christmas Eve 2011, Erica Carver logged onto Facebook from her home in Sandy, Utah. That’s when she saw a status update from one of her Facebook friends that read: “Hello. Is anyone out there? I am having a serious problem and me and (my son) will be dead by morning.”
Carver’s husband worked with the woman, which is the only reason Carver had friended the woman on Facebook. They’d never met in person. At first, Carver thought it was a joke, but the woman didn’t usually post jokes. Other friends of the woman must have thought the same thing because they started posting their phone numbers, urging her to call. But the woman didn’t reply to any of the comments. Carver called her husband, but he didn’t know the woman’s address or phone number.
Finally, a friend in South Carolina posted the woman’s address in the comments. A vacationing Utah firefighter called the Sandy police, and they sent officers to the address. At first, 33-year-old Troy Critchfield refused to let the officers see his girlfriend. When they finally saw her, they asked her if everything was okay, and she shook her head. She also had several bruises on her face.
Apparently, Critchfield had held his girlfriend hostage for five days, repeatedly beating and sexually assaulting her. Whenever she tried to leave the house, he attacked her. Critchfield had confiscated the phones of the woman and her disabled child. Fortunately, the woman was able to make the post on Facebook because she sneaked a computer into a close.
And for our grant finale of Facebook connection greatness we have a story about four brave students and one new born baby.
On May 26, 2014, Melissa McMahon gave birth to her daughter Victoria Boisclair at a hospital in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec. Sixteen hours later, a woman dressed as a nurse carried Victoria out of the hospital to her car—which had a “Baby on Board” sticker in the window—and drove away. Before long, hospital workers realized the baby was missing, so an Amber Alert was issued with a description of the car. The alert quickly went viral.
Four young people who lived in Trois-Rivieres saw the alert on Facebook and started driving around, looking for the car. When the police released a picture of the suspect, one of the friends recognized the kidnapper as 21-year-old Valerie Poulin-Collins, a former neighbor. The friends drove to Poulin-Collins’s apartment, recognized her car from the description, and saw Poulin-Collins at home through the window. They called the police.
Minutes later, officers kicked down Poulin-Collins’s door, found Victoria safe inside, and returned the baby to her grateful parents just 3.5 hours after the abduction. Poulin-Collins was arrested and pleaded guilty to kidnapping. She was given two years less a day in prison.