“Selfless” High School Principal Dies After Donating Bone Marrow To A Stranger

In 2019, 44-year-old Derrick Nelson arranged through a donor organization to donate his bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France. Nelson was a high school principal in Westfield, New Jersey, and did not hesitate to give his stem cells to a stranger, hoping it would save the boy’s life. Unfortunately, it was Nelson’s last act of kindness. After the surgery, Nelson lapsed into a coma and never recovered.

In any type of surgery, there are risks. No one can foresee tragedy coming during a selfless act. If you or a loved one have suffered because of a surgical error with anesthesia, reach out to the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at The Weitz Firm, LLC.

The sad story of Derrick Nelson

After his death, the family of Nelson filed a medical malpractice suit, alleging he should have never been administered anesthesia which resulted in severe brain damage and death after a coma lasting several weeks.

The family received $5.5 million in damages for his death. The procedure occurred at the Hackensack University Medical Center, and the lawsuit claims the anesthesiologist and ten unnamed specialists were at fault for Nelson’s death because they failed to promptly administer oxygen after Nelson’s oxygen level plunged.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, donating bone marrow is low risk with only 2.4% of donors experiencing complications. Usually, the complications either come from:

  • Anesthesia use
  • Damage to bones, nerves, or muscles in the hip region

In a 2009 study, the journal of the European Hematology Association

Haematologica revealed only five donors died during more than 51,000 stem cell transplants in a 12-year period.

In 2002, Nelson began teaching in New Jersey public schools. He climbed the ladder and became principal of Westfield High School in 2017. Nelson had spent more than 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, serving an assignment in the Middle East. Recently, he had re-enlisted.

The why’s and what’s of anesthesia

Anesthesia makes most modern procedures and surgeries possible, and astoundingly,

the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical mistakes. Some medical mistakes manifest in anesthesia as overdoses, complications, and adverse effects.

Three of the most common types of anesthesia are:

  • Local anesthesia – Numbs body parts for the procedure, and the patient stays awake
  • Regional anesthesia – Blocks pain to larger areas of the body, and the patient stays awake
  • General anesthesia – Involves patients sleeping and numb during a procedure.

Doctors should explain the risk factors of anesthesia to patients before procedures because it is a common occurrence for doctors to improperly diagnose patient conditions that may complicate the use of anesthesia.

When should I contact a lawyer?

A medical team—doctors, nurses, technicians, anesthesiologists—all doing individual jobs to ensure a successful procedure. It is the job of the anesthesiologist to make sure the procedure is as safe and painless as possible, but anesthesia can cause some severe complications.

If you or a loved one feels your trust has been betrayed by surgeons or doctors, you need to call the Philadelphia anesthesia malpractice attorney at The Weitz Firm, LLC.

You may be suffering physically and emotionally, but there is no need to suffer financially. Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 267-587-6240.



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