A year studying Spanish and Latin American culture in Mexico should have been one of the best years of Philip Pain's life. But a horrific fall from the seventh floor of a hotel in the seaside city of Mazatlan over the 2010 New Year forever altered the course of his life.
...Philip, a 21-year-old student from Britain, was rushed to the local hospital, where doctors put him into an induced coma because his back and leg injuries were so severe. Before doctors could operate to save Philip's life, they faced a problem: His blood type was O negative, a trait he shares with just 7 percent of the world's population, and the hospital didn't have enough.
Philip's friends appealed frantically for local donors, even testing an entire team of American baseball players, who happened to be staying in the same hotel. But they couldn't find enough blood. Back in the U.K., thousands of miles away, Philip's friends and family were responding in another way: By creating two Facebook groups appealing for donors in Mexico.
They couldn't have anticipated the global response to their plea, with both groups gaining thousands of members in just 48 hours. While the majority of people could only offer their support, many others from around the world offered to donate blood.
Word quickly reached those closer to Philip. Even before his parents, Neil and Sally, arrived in Mexico on Jan. 2, people were visiting the hospital to donate. Local radio stations broadcast the story, which then spread to the international media. A number of high-profile people in the U.K., including Sarah Brown, wife of then Prime Minster Gordon Brown, talked about the story and drove even more people to the Facebook groups.
Within a few days, doctors had enough blood to begin Philip's multiple life saving operations.
Aside from helping with blood donations, Philip's parents said they were "overwhelmed" by the warmth and support from Facebook members in the wake of the accident. Strangers offered them accommodation, food and every kind of assistance. Others, unable to donate blood, simply arrived at the hospital to offer the family their best.
Philip's initial operations were successful, and after five weeks in hospital he was able to return to the U.K. He continues to return to the hospital during the week for physiotherapy, which is helping him regain the full use of his legs.
Philip is now able to fully appreciate the groups that helped to save his life and continues to take support from them. The two groups themselves, which combined have more than 23,000 members, have assumed a new role. They provide a way for Philip and his family to give updates on his progress and are also promoting a wider drive for blood donations.
Sarah, an intern on Facebook's communications team, is going to face her fears and give blood for the first time.