School principal dies while donating bone marrow to save life of child he never met

A beloved school principle died after donating bone marrow to help save the life of a French teenager he never met.

Dr Derrick Nelson, who was the principle at Westfield High School in New Jersey, fell into a month-long coma after the medical procedure and died unexpectedly at a local hospital on Sunday.

Nelson, 44, gave his bone marrow to the 14-year-old boy who lives across the world after a donor program contacted him with news that his blood might be a match for the teen. Nelson was in the database for the Be the Match nonprofit organization after he gave blood in college in 1996, according to his schools student newspaper.

Dr. Derrick Nelson, 44, died in a New Jersey hospital after he slipped into a coma following his bone marrow donation (Picture: Facebook)

Nelson had been the principal of Westfield High School in New Jersey since February 2017 (Picture: Google Maps)

If its just a little bit of pain for a little bit of time that can give someone years of joy, its all worth it, Nelson told the paper, adding that his marrow was needed to provide stem cells for the stricken teen, whose ailment was not disclosed.



Complications arose once it was determined that Nelsons blood was a match. He suffered from sleep apnea and doctors were concerned he may have adverse effects if they used anesthesia.

It was also determined that Nelson was a carrier for sickle cell anemia, so doctors were forced to scrap plans to harvest the stem cells intravenously.

Nevertheless, Nelson, who was a 20-year military veteran, committed to the complicated medical procedure, which had to be done under a local anesthetic and left him in a comatose state.

After the procedure he did, he couldnt speak and was lying in the bed, Nelsons 81-year-old father Willie told NJ advance Media.

Nelson served in the Army Reserves for more than 20 years before becoming an educator (Picture: Facebook)

His eyes were open and he realized who we were. But he couldnt move. He never spoke again.

We really dont know the full story of what happened. We were expecting him to come out of the coma he was in. But he didnt make it, the grieving father continued.

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As Nelson remained unresponsive in his hospital room, his wife, Sheronda, and the couples six-year-old daughter kept vigil in his room in the hope he would recover, until the principal succumbed to his illness.

The cause of Nelsons death has not been specified, although his father said it was due to complications related to the procedure.



News of the principals death was met with an outpouring of grief and admiration from both his students and his friends.

(2) His name was Dr. Derrick Nelson. He was a high school principal and a recently retired soldier in the Army Reserve, truly a pillar of his community, beloved by all who knew him. When I 1st heard of his death, I thought it was somehow connected to his Army service. It wasnt.

— Salim Sivaad (@SalimSivaad) April 9, 2019

The Westfield New Jersey Police department posted a tribute to Dr Nelson on their Facebook page (Picture: Facebook)

My Frat brother, great friend and fellow educator has transitioned from labor to reward! Bro. Dr. Derrick Nelson, no words will articulate your impact on others! The selfless act will only acutely define the measure of you Man! _

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