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Family Announces Lawsuit Over Death Of Bone Marrow Donor, Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson

WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - An attorney speaking for the family of Westfield High School Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson announced Monday a lawsuit against Hackensack University Medical Center and an anesthesiologist regarding his death while attempting to donate bone marrow for a sick teen.

Derrick Nelson
Derrick Nelson (credit: Mayor Shelley Brindle)

Nelson died April 7 at the age of 44.

Nelson was in a coma for a month after donating bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France.

"Unfortunately, this selfless act took Dr. Nelson's life as the anesthesiologist committed medical malpractice during the procedure, leading to Dr. Nelson suffering severe brain damage and ultimately death several weeks later," Mazie said.

The lawsuit was filed by Sheronda Braker, Nelson's fiancee and the mother of his 6-year-old child.

MORE: Are There Fatal Complications Donors Need To Worry About When Giving Bone Marrow?

"Tragically it was that final selfless act that took Dr. Nelson's life," said attorney David Mazie, adding that the medical center and the anesthesiologist were negligent in the procedure.

Web Extra: Family Announce Lawsuit Over Death Of Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson --


Nelson served 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve. In May, Westfield named him the honorary grand marshal of its Memorial Day parade.

In response to the lawsuit, Hackensack Meridian Health issued a statement on Monday afternoon:

We were saddened by the tragic death of Dr. Derrick Nelson and have shared our deepest sympathies with his family, his students, the community, his friends and colleagues he touched. He leaves a remarkable legacy as an educator and veteran. We are unable to say more at this time due to the litigation process; however, we have been in communication with the family through their legal representation. It is important to note that the safety of our patients remains our primary focus and we have one of the largest and most experienced transplantation teams in the country.

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