×
School Principal Makes Bone Marrow Donation To Save Stranger's Life, But Falls Into Coma And Dies

School Principal Makes Bone Marrow Donation To Save Stranger's Life, But Falls Into Coma And Dies

The high school principal from New Jersey donated his bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy from France. The good Samaritan fell into a coma after the surgery, and eventually passed away.

It isn't that often that we come across people who would be ready to undergo serious pain in order to help a stranger, especially someone you might never meet or even see. 44-year-old Derrick Nelson happened to be one of those few good Samaritans. Sadly, the world recently lost this great man. Derrick Nelson was the principal of Westfield High School in New Jersey.. He lost his life while trying to save the life of a 14-year-old boy from France. The boy was in desperate need of bone marrow and Nelson was one of the only people to have matched with the boy. He decided to save the boy's life no matter what pain it put him through. Nelson unexpectedly passed away on Sunday night. Doctors believe that it is because the surgery did not go as planned. 

The donation procedure took place in February earlier this year. According to his fiancé, Nelson faced several health complications after the donation procedure took place. Nelson also suffered from apnea, which meant that he could not undergo the regular transplant procedure and needed a more complicated one. Apnea is when the victim completely stops breathing for a brief period. This would create problems during the transplant and hence he required a different kind of anesthesia and a more complex transplant procedure. 



 

 

The school's newspaper reported in February that Nelson decided to donate his bone marrow to a boy in France after being contacted by Be The Match. The national bone marrow donor program told him that his blood might be a match. When Nelson heard that he had a chance to save the life of a young boy he quickly agreed to do it. He was determined to save the life of a stranger all the way across the Atlantic, someone whom he might never meet or get to talk to in his life. 



 

Due to his apnea, the doctors told Nelson that they would not be able to perform the surgery normally. The regular anesthesia would not work and if his breathing stopped during the surgery then it could result in further complications. He was requested to undergo a different form of transplant called invasive therapy. With one IV in each arm, he told the High School newspaper before the surgery that "[the doctors would] take the blood out of one arm, send that blood to the centrifuge where they separate the plasma from the stem cell, then put the blood back in my arm through the other IV."



 

 

He was warned about facing severe pain for a while after the procedure. This did not stop the good Samaritan. He believed that the discomfort would be for a noble cause and was ready to go through it all as long as it would save the boy's life. "If it's just a little bit of pain for a little bit of time that can give someone years of joy, it's all worth it," he said. However, the surgery did not really go as planned and it resulted in Nelson suffering from many other health problems. He was in a coma for a little over a month after the procedure was over. 



 

 

Nelson was the father of a 6-year-old girl. His 81-year-old father, Willie Nelson told NJ.com, "After the procedure he did, he couldn’t speak and was lying in the bed. His eyes were open and he realized who we were. But he couldn’t move. He never spoke again." Nelson's family that included his parents, his fiancé Sheronda, and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter kept vigil at his room at Hackensack University Hospital for weeks, hoping he would recover. Nelson died on Sunday.  His father said, "We really don’t know the full story of what happened. We were expecting him to come out of the coma he was in. But he didn’t make it."



 

In a statement to CNN, his fiancé Sheronda Braker said that Nelson "was a tremendous father to our beloved daughter Morgan and the best companion and life partner I could have ever asked for. He loved his family almost beyond belief. He was a man who carried himself with dignity, courage and compassion. His last kind and generous act on this earth in giving so someone else might live is a true testament to who he was and how he should always be remembered. We will always love him."  In a letter to parents, Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan said, "Dr. Nelson touched us all with his kindness, compassion, integrity, and endlessly positive attitude. We hold him and his family in our hearts as we grieve this loss together and I know you join me in granting his family the privacy they have requested."



 

According to Dolan, Nelson served in the US Army Reserve for over 20 years before becoming the principal of the high school. People say that Nelson was a great educator and role model with a strong moral compass. Jackson O'Brien, senior class president at Westfield High, told WABC, "He always tried to inspire students in the classroom and outside to be good people. And I think he served as a great role model."   



 

Recommended for you