“I was devastated.” These are the sobering words of a woman who grieved the loss of her brother, a man who turned out not to be her brother at all.
Shirell Powell of Brooklyn, New York, found herself in St. Barnabas Hospital in the summer of 2018. It was July 15, and Powell received some news no one ever wants to hear.
— New York Post (@nypost) January 28, 2019
The man in question was reportedly swollen, unconscious and unrecognizable.
“He had tubes in his mouth, a neck brace,’’ Powell told the New York Post. “He was a little swollen … (But) he resembled my brother so much.”
Powell said that the man presumed to be her brother was unable to speak for himself.
When the man was declared “brain dead” following a series of tests over a two-day period, Powell was heartbroken.
Three weeks after Shirell Powell allowed doctors to take her brother off life support, the hospital realized the patient wasn’t her brother at all. https://t.co/rInXHugREb
— WTHR.com (@WTHRcom) January 28, 2019
“That is my baby brother, so it was really hurtful,” she said. “I was worried, hurt, crying, screaming, calling everybody. It was a horrible feeling.”
She sat at the man’s bedside for nine long days. The trauma of that experience alone would be enough for anyone to handle. Grieving is a process and Powell spent those days coping, bringing herself to say goodbye.
After contacting her loved ones, giving them a chance to say goodbye as well, Powell’s sister came to meet her at the hospital.
Shirell Powell of Brooklyn thought she was making the difficult choice to take her brother off life support. But the man wasn’t her brother. https://t.co/OEf8MmUiBl
— New York City Patch (@NYC_Patch) January 29, 2019
At first, she didn’t recognize the man and insisted it wasn’t their brother, but upon closer inspection, she saw the resemblance.
On top of it all, Frederick Williams has two teen daughters who took the news quite severely. “She was hysterical,” Powell says of his 17-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. “She was holding his hand, kissing him, crying.”
It was only after all of this, that life support was removed with Powell’s consent and the man was taken for an autopsy — an autopsy that led to the discovery that the man was not, in fact, Frederick Williams.
Forty-year-old Freddy Clarence Williams was the same age and even bore a similar name.
Frederick Williams, it turns out, is alive and living in jail. Now Powell wants justice and is suing the hospital for negligence, Insider reported.
“How could the hospital do something like that?” Williams asked. “Look what they put my family through.”
A St. Barnabas Hospital spokesperson told Insider, “The hospital feels strongly that the lawsuit has no merit.”
They say 40-year-old Freddy Clarence Williams died in St. Barnabas hospital in Brooklyn back in July after suffering a drug overdose. https://t.co/6xjbRo7RAc
— WOR NewsTalk Radio (@710WOR) January 30, 2019
“I barely sleep thinking about this all the time,” Powell said. “Sometimes I can’t even talk about it because I get upset and start crying.”
The situation is certainly upsetting. This family has gone through quite an ordeal no matter who is in the wrong. Do you think the hospital is at fault here, or was it a mistake anyone could make?
Either way, we hope this family finds healing and relief in the days to come. We can’t imagine how difficult all of this has been for them.
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