Woman Says She Pulled Life Support of Wrong Man After Hospital Said It Was Brother, Lawsuit Claims

Woman Says She Pulled Life Support of Wrong Man After Hospital Said It Was Brother, Lawsuit Claims

On July 29, Shirell Powell gave doctors at New York’s St. Barnabas Hospital permission to withdraw life support from her dying brother Frederick Williams.

But an autopsy later revealed that the deceased man wasn’t her brother, according to a lawsuit. Powell had signed off on the death of a stranger.

“I nearly fainted because I killed somebody that I didn’t even know. I gave consent,” Powell, 48, of Brooklyn, told the New York Post. “I was like, ‘Where is my brother? What is going on?’ I was devastated.”

Powell is suing the hospital for unspecified damages as a result of the mishap. The lawsuit states that Powell remained at the stranger’s bedside — believing him to be her brother who had apparently suffered a drug overdose — for nearly two weeks. He suffered severe brain damage and doctors told Powell that her brother was brain dead, according to the New York Post.

“He had tubes in his mouth, a neck brace. He was a little swollen . . . [But] he resembled my brother so much,” Powell told the publication. “He couldn’t speak from the time they brought him in the hospital. They just assumed it was my brother.”

An autopsy concluded the ailing man was actually Freddy Clarence Williams, according to his social security card, the lawsuit states. Still, hospital staff mixed up the men’s patient profiles, likely due to their similar names, according to the lawsuit and the Washington Post. (Powell’s brother’s name is Frederick Williams.)

Thus, Powell was listed under the man’s emergency contacts list. Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.

In a statement to PEOPLE, officials from St. Barnabas Hospital said: “We can’t comment on pending litigation other than to say we believe the claim is without merit.”

Withdrawing life support was “devastating” for the family, Powell told the New York Post. And Williams’ teen daughters, Brooklyn, 17, and Star, 18, took the “death” very hard. Brooklyn was even at the hospital on July 29 to join their father during his final moments, Powell told the publication.

“She was hysterical,” Powell recalled to the publication of Brooklyn. “She was holding his hand, kissing him, crying.”

But the family has since learned that Williams is not dead. According to the suit, an autopsy in August determined the deceased man to be Freddy and not Williams.

As all of this unfolded, Williams was in jail, being held at Rikers Island following a July 1 arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge, according to the Washington Post.

In a phone interview from jail, Williams told the New York Post that he was not mad at his sister for pulling the plug on a man she believed to be him. But Powell recalled a tense conversation between herself and Williams after he learned what had happened.

“He was saying, ‘You were going to kill me?’ I explained to him, once you’re brain-dead, there is nothing to do,” she told the New York Post, adding that the situation has taken a toll on her emotionally.

“I barely sleep thinking about this all the time,” she said. “To actually stand over him and watch this man take his last breath — sometimes I can’t even talk about it because I get upset and start crying.”

Source: Read Full Article