Photo by Kevin Bond via Facebook
As 2-month-old Hudson Azera Bond of North Carolina awaits a desperately needed heart transplant, his father Kevin Bond has fundraising for the operation in every way he knows how, including through a Facebook page. But dealing with the social media giant added to Bond’s heartache over the weekend. That’s when the company deemed a photo of Hudson connected to various medical tubes “scary” and “gory,” and rejected Bond’s attempt to boost site traffic with a $20 paid ad.
Facebook quickly reversed its decision, and a representative called Bond to personally apologize Wednesday, but the father said the damage was done.
“It hurt our whole family,” Bond, a photographer, told Yahoo Health. “Nobody wants their beautiful son compared to ghosts, zombie ghouls, dismembered bodies, and vampires, and whatever else that rejection letter said.”
The email from Facebook (a screen shot of which can be seen below), which did include that wording and which also put the photo into the “sensational” category, was an automated generic response explaining why something might have not fit into its ad guidelines. The company representative told Bond the rejection had been made in error by its system, apologized, and said it was working out a way to compensate the family, possibly with a free ad. Bond said Facebook’s apology call did help, but still felt the wording of the rejection email was “outrageous,” and that reading it “sickened” him.
A Facebook spokesperson emailed the following response to Yahoo Health on Wednesday: “This was a mistake on our part, and the ad has been re-approved. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused the family.” The company is no stranger to controversy, as it’s caught flak and tweaked its policies over the years for issues involving photos of breastfeeding moms, weight-loss celebrators, mastectomy scars and more.
Tiny Hudson, who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy — a disease of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure — when he was just 7 days old, remains in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit at Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, N.C. One of his parents, and often another family member, remains by his side round the clock, Bond said. “We’re on shifts. His mother likes to stay overnight, and I usually come in the morning and hang with him all day,” he said.
Hudson is on the national registry awaiting a heart for his transplant, and in the mean time, his family has been busily raising the funds they will need for the operation and for subsequent care. “When you implant a heart into a kid this age, it’s not going to last,” Bond explained. “By the time he’s in his 20s he will probably have had four transplants.” So far, Hudson’s cause has pulled in more than $45,000 through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association; to donate, visit his page here.
In an attempt to keep the donations coming, Bond said that he keeps his Facebook page constantly updated. “Every day I take a picture of my son and try to wax eloquently to get people interested in his case,” he explained. The page has been up for about a month, and he’s successfully boosted it through payment before, but something about this particular photo stopped the process this time around, he said.
But Hudson’s Facebook page has more than 8,000 likes, and his supporters have been vocal about the recent situation regarding the photo.
“Unbelievable!” wrote one outraged woman. “Selfies can go up all day every day of half naked people, or vulgar language can cover the newsfeed, but this precious child that is fighting to live is considered too graphic…it’s a sad day Facebook! You should be ashamed.” A fellow parent showed her support by posting a photo of her own infant, now 8 months old, just days after her open-heart surgery. “This is REAL!!! Awareness needs to be raised,” she wrote. “Yes, it is tough to see a baby like this! But people NEED to see it. It could happen to anyone’s baby! Awareness is a good thing!!!” And now, it appears, Facebook agrees.