Wendy Posts It
The Wellesley network went into high gear when it moved onto Facebook. On “community,” alumnae dole out advice, provide support through crises, and form lasting bonds. And then there are the stories that are the stuff of legend.
Alice Kunce ’05 had never been so scared. Her younger sister lay in a hospital bed with the deathly pallor of a wax figure. Ellen, then 21, had been born with a malformed heart and had undergone numerous surgeries, including the installation of a mechanical valve when she was 10. Because of her sister’s condition, Kunce and her family were no strangers to hospitals. But this time was different because the doctors didn’t have a plan.
A bacterial infection had sent Ellen to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with sudden congestive heart failure. In such cases, antibiotics would typically kill the infection, but Ellen had proved allergic to the standard class of medicines. The physicians said that if left untreated, the infection would slowly kill her.
Ellen’s doctor, a young, bleary-eyed resident, had given her the hospital’s last dose of streptomycin, an older antibiotic normally used to treat tuberculosis in the developing world, and it seemed to be working. However, as the doctor informed Kunce and her family, he was unable to get any more.
“What do you mean you can’t get any more?” screeched Kunce. “This is one of the top cardiac-care facilities in the world.”
“I mean, this drug is not available,” the doctor told her. “We don’t have it. We can’t get it. You can even put it on Facebook, but this medicine does not exist.”
But “put it on Facebook” is just what Kunce did. On the group called Community for Wellesley Alums in Withdrawal, which had been started a few months before, Kunce posted a message that began: “***Who has drug connections??***” After explaining her sister’s situation, she closed, “I am reaching out and activating the Wellesley Network!! Please, crosspost as necessary!!! Streptomycin. 1 gram per vial. 1 vial per day.”
Then she went to sleep.