The family and seriously ill daughter of Matt Leach, associate pastor at the Grace Brethren Church in Owings, Maryland (Robert Wagner, pastor), is featured in local media. The focus is on using the internet to research rare diseases. Here is an excerpt–to read the entire article, click here.
Reaching into the web
After grim diagnosis, parents turn to Internet, social networks
Julie Leach of St. Leonard knew something was amiss during a routine checkup.
“At my 20-week sonogram, the technician took an awful long time trying to get a shot of her jaw,” Leach said.
Later, when she and her husband, Matt, learned the rare diagnosis of their newborn daughter, a condition that puzzled doctors, they turned in desperation to the Internet.
The Internet often provides those like the Leach family unfiltered health information and access to specialists. It also has increasingly become the place where people connect with others who share similar diagnoses, through blogging, Facebook and other social media.
“Twenty to 30 years ago when we didn’t have the Internet, our parents probably had to go to the library,” said Jae Eun Chung, an assistant professor at Kent State University who researches health communication in new media. “Now we are just one click away from medical information.”
A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that one in five Americans uses the Internet to find people with similar health concerns. For people with chronic illnesses, it’s one in four.