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New ways of being: a true story of how a connected world saved a life


Society and business are fusing as we move into a world where technology is not evil. Some want us to believe it is but technology is not evil; how we choose to use it is another story. It’s ironic that many of the people and organizations who would like us to buy into this way of thinking are making their living putting on big conferences, events and retreats to help us detox from technology. Personally, I believe more of us should be more focused on understanding the value technology brings to our lives and business and spend more time being still to appreciate the beauty of the world we live.

There is no reason to detox; we need to decided that we have sit down dinners with our family where we have conversations instead of blaming technology for disrupting our family life. We need to bring people together in conversation and turn our video cameras on when we have calls with people in multiple locations and not use slides to numb each other with how smart we are. That is when the 21st century leader shows up with purpose and a mindset of wholeness to bring the team together. We need more retreats focused on the awe and beauty of life than the increasing noise of detox camps. When used in a common sense way, technology is magical and can take us to new heights. Here is one example of how it even saved a young boy’s life. There is no separation between business and life anymore, unless it is superficial.

There is no better way to explain new ways of being than to share the story of Theo Menswar. Theo was your average 13-year old boy. He was busy going to school, playing soccer and spending time with his friends and family – loving life. In May 2012, he was diagnosed with a blood cancer called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. His cure required a bone marrow transplant. After receiving the transplant, Theo developed another deadly disease, Stage 4 Graft vs. Host disease (GVHD). The proper treatment for GVHD is to suppress the immune system to extreme measures. Dr. Yasser Khaled, Theo’s bone marrow physician followed the prescribed protocol and suppressed his immune system. Unfortunately, while they were suppressing his immune system, Theo contracted a deadly fungus called Mucormycosis. The proper treatment for Mucor is to boost the immune system so that the body can attack the fungus. The two issues created a “zero sum game”.
On March 23, 2013, the doctors pulled his family into a room and explained that no matter which issue they treated, the other would take his life. The doctors suggested the families say their goodbyes as they thought Theo wouldn’t make it through the night.Theo’s father, Brant shared this devastating news with the extended family. Brant’s younger brother Todd, who lives in New Hampshire, was devastated when he received the news. Unknown to Brant and his wife, Todd took five minutes and filmed a video of him holding poster boards pleading for help from anyone who could help save Theo’s life. Todd immediately uploaded video onto YouTube. In his heart , he believed there were other experts beyond their hospital system that might be able to help save Theo.

Within 48 hours, the video had over 500,000 views. Brant and his wife started to receive calls from people all over the world who believed they could help. Todd used social media tools to get the word out as fast as he could to as many people as he could to find people to help. Early the next morning, Brant Menswar received a call on his cell phone from Dr. Dimitrios Kontoyiannis at MD Anderson in Houston, TX. He said, “I saw your video and I believe I can help save your son. Mucormycosis is my specialty”. Dr. Dimitrios Kontoyiannis was joined by close friend, Dr. Tom Walsh, who was a leading researcher on the Mucor fungus at Cornell University.

Brant also received a call later that morning from Dr. Tim Johnson of Good Morning America. Dr. Johnson asked Brant to speak with Dr. Khaled, their personal physician and the bone marrow specialist to make a list of any doctor he wanted to speak with in the country. Dr. Johnson said he would personally make it happen within 24 hours. True to his word, Dr. Johnson connected them with Dr. Joseph Antin at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Dr. Antin who was the foremost expert on Graft Vs Host disease. Theo’s personal physician, Dr. Yasser Khaled put aside his own ego and embraced the ideas he was hearing from the other experts. With their guidance, Dr. Khaled had one of the best teams in the world to help him save Theo’s life. The local and extended team integrated and came together to save Theo. It took the wisdom of the collective community to make it happen.

This story and more can be found in Our Journey To Business Common Sense
Image credit Michael Coghlan via Flickr.

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