Woman turned off stranger’s life support thinking it was her brother

2019-01-30 16:00
Man on life support. (Photo: Getty/ Gallo Images)

Man on life support. (Photo: Getty/ Gallo Images)

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A grieving woman gave permission for the life support system of a man she thought was her brother to be turned off.

Shirell Powell from New York sat for nine days at St Barnabas Hospital beside the bed of a man she believed was her brother – but who was in fact a stranger admitted under the same name, Metro News reports. 

Only after 48-year-old Powell had given consent for her “brother’s” machines to be turned off did she discover the man’s true identity. Her sibling, it turned out, is in jail.

“I nearly fainted because I killed somebody I didn’t even know. I gave consent,” she said.

“I was like, ‘Where’s my brother? What’s going on?’ I was devastated.”

In July last year Freddy Clarence (40), who had no form of identification, was admitted to the hospital after he was unconscious from an apparent drug overdose, USA Today reports.

The hospital registered the man as Frederick Williams – the same name as Powell’s brother, who’d previously been a patient there.

The hospital, in the Bronx, then called Powell who rushed over to be by her brother’s side, Mirror reports.

“He had tubes in his mouth, a neck brace,” she said. “He was a little swollen . . . but he resembled my brother so much.

“He couldn’t speak from the time they brought him to the hospital. They just assumed it was my brother.”

Two days after they’d performed tests on Freddy doctors told the devastated woman her brother was “brain dead”.

“That’s my baby brother, so it was really hurtful,” Powell said.

“I was worried, hurt, crying, screaming, calling everybody. It was a horrible feeling.”

Only after an autopsy did it become clear she’d given consent for a stranger’s machines to be turned off.

Powell later called her brother in jail to confirm that he was still alive, New York Post reports.

“He was saying, ‘You were going to kill me?’ I explained to him, once you’re brain dead there’s nothing to do.”

Powell is now reportedly suing the hospital for unspecified damages for the trauma she’s suffered as a result of pulling the plug on a stranger.

“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,” Powell said.

Sources: Metro, New York Post, USA Today

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