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Hospital Sued After Principal Dies Donating Bone Marrow

Derrick Nelson died after lapsing into a coma during the procedure
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2019 4:14 PM CDT
This undated photo provided by Westfield Public Schools in Westfield, N.J., shows Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson, who died after donating bone marrow to a 14-year-old student in France.   (Westfield Public Schools via AP)

(Newser) – Derrick Nelson and Sheronda Braker were supposed to get married June 29. Instead, Nelson, a 44-year-old New Jersey high school principal, died in April after a procedure to donate bone marrow to a teen in France. Now Braker, mother to a 5-year-old daughter with Nelson, is suing Hackensack University Medical Center, an anesthesiologist, and others over her fiance's death, NJ.com reports. Her lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount in damages, claims the anesthesiologist committed medical malpractice during the procedure, leading to Nelson's severe brain damage and eventually death, MyCentralJersey reports. "At the time of the procedure Dr. Nelson was known to have sleep apnea and was overweight: two factors which made him a high risk for undergoing anesthesia," the lawsuit says. It claims anesthesia continued to be administered without Nelson receiving extra oxygen, even though he had a low oxygen saturation level at the time.

"This was a breach of standard care," the lawsuit says. It claims that Nelson's oxygen saturation level continued to drop and that he was not properly monitored; eventually he suffered a "severe and permanent hypoxia brain injury" that led to a coma and then death. Says Braker's lawyer, "They should have stopped the procedure immediately. ... I don’t know what went on in that operating room. I don’t know why they didn’t monitor him. I don’t know if they were paying attention, but we are going to find out and this can never, ever happen again." Braker said at a press conference, "This is justice for our daughter who does not have her father. Who cries for her father. As a mother you want to be able to help your child, and that’s something I can’t fix. It’s justice for his parents who lost their only child." The medical center says in a statement it has been in communication with Nelson's family and that "the safety of our patients remains our primary focus." (More on Nelson here.)

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