Woman Gives Hospital Permission to Take Brother off Life Support — She Learned Later the Man Who Died Wasn’t Him

A woman says she feels responsible for a tragic mistake at a New York hospital.

Shirell Powell mistakenly took a stranger off of life support and now she’s suing for unspecified damages, reports the New York Post.

Powell said she sat for nine days at her dying brother’s hospital bedside at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx until one day, she finally arranged for doctors to take her brain dead brother off of life support.

The woman proceeded to arrange her sibling’s funeral when officials revealed that someone on staff had made a big mistake.

It turns out Powell’s brother Frederick Williams was actually in jail and the dying man was a different person with a similar name.

According to Powell, she hadn’t heard from her brother for weeks when she got a call from the hospital on July 15 saying Frederick, 40, was unconscious from an apparent drug overdose. Powell visited the man whom she assumed was Frederick; he had a swollen appearance and tubes covering his face.

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The aunt of Fredrick’s two teenage daughters, Brooklyn, 17, and Star, 18, said the family was crying hysterically when they said their final goodbyes and Powell authorized the hospital to withdraw him from life support. She recalled:

“It was very devastating. I was crying.

That is my baby brother, so it was really hurtful. I was worried, hurt, crying, screaming, calling everybody. It was a horrible feeling.”

It was only after a medical examiner discovered the man’s true identity, nearly a month later, that she got a call on August 16 saying the dead patient was Freddy Clarence Williams, 40.

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St. Barnabas staff recovered Freddy’s social security number but still identified him as Powell’s brother, say the court papers.

According to the Washington Post, corrections records show Frederick was arrested on assault charges and held on Rikers Island on July 1, 2018. Powell said:

“I nearly fainted because I killed somebody that I didn’t even know. I gave consent.

On the one hand, I’m thankful that it wasn’t [my brother]. On the other hand, I killed somebody that was a dad or a brother.”

St. Barnabas hospital told the New York Post that the lawsuit is without “merit.”

According to the suit, Frederick Williams had been treated before at the hospital and his records were still on file at the time someone contacted his family.

Powell has not been able to obtain information about Freddy Williams to send her condolences to his family.

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