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Google Saves Chelmsford Girl’s Life

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Mum googles daughters symptomsThis week we read the heartwarming story of nine-year-old Brooke Smee from Chelmsford. Brooke had been unwell for a while and her mum turned to Google to find out what was wrong with her daughter after doctors dismissed her condition as an “abdominal migraine”. An MRI scan spotted a brain tumour and emergency surgery was carried out immediately to save the young girl’s life.

Brooke Smee, who attends Lawford Mead Primary School in Chelmsford, had been unwell for a month, with regular bouts of vomiting and tiredness. Brooke’s mum, Kayley Baker, took her to the doctors only to be told that her daughter was suffering from an abdominal migraine, which is a condition mostly seen in children only. Diagnoses of the condition is difficult and the causes are still largely unknown. The condition worsened and she started to find it difficult to walk.

Kayley, unconvinced by the doctor’s diagnosis, turned to the web. She searched Google for her daughter’s symptoms and was soon reading about brain tumours on the NHS Direct website. Kayley returned to hospital and begged staff, over several days, to give her daughter an MRI scan.

Eventually, on Friday October 9, Brooke Smee had an MRI scan and was immediately diagnosed with grade 4 medulloblastoma. She was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital for emergency surgery.

“We were blue-lighted to Great Ormond Street Hospital, and they told me that if Brooke hadn’t had a scan on the Friday, I wouldn’t have had my daughter on the Saturday.”

Brooke had several operations, two to relieve pressure on her brain and one to remove the brain tumour. Brooke is now being treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and it is hoped that she will make a full recovery.

It is every parent’s worse nightmare to find out that your child is on the brink of life and death. Fortunately, Brooke’s condition was correctly diagnosed just in the nick of time. Kayley said that “Googling her symptoms saved her life.”

This story is a great reminder of how far the Internet has come in a very short time. Ten years ago the same misdiagnosis would have cost Brooke Smee her life.

Here at FSE we deal with Google every day, helping local companies to win more business from the search engines. While this is a vital service to local businesses, it is easy to forget how amazing Google and the Internet really is. Searching Google can literally save a life, and while doctors are keen to tell us not to search Google for our symptoms, in this case ignoring their advice saved somebody’s life.

Kayley’s final words to the Essex Chronicle sum it up perfectly: “I would encourage people, if they think there’s something wrong, to get a second opinion. If I hadn’t gone back to the hospital, if I hadn’t Googled her symptoms, I wouldn’t have my little girl now.”

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