High School Principal Dies Donating Bone Marrow to Teen

Derrick Nelson

Derrick Nelson

Nelson, who was an officer with the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 20 years, became principal at the high school in 2017.

Community members are mourning the loss of a beloved high school principal who died over the weekend - a passing that follows his bone marrow donation. "We were expecting him to come out of the coma he was in". "His eyes were open, and he realized who we were".

Derrick Nelson donated his bone marrow to help a 14-year-old boy in France, but he suffered complications from the procedure, and had been a coma for the past month.

Nelson reportedly was optimistic about his lifegiving gesture, saying: "If it's just a little bit of pain for a little bit of time that can give someone years of joy, it's all worth it".

Because he had sleep apnea, which he had developed while serving in the military, doctors felt it would be unsafe to put him under general anesthesia while they extracted his bone marrow, he said.

"Even if you never even spoke a word with him, his impact was felt the moment you walked in as a freshman or the moment you left", said Conrad.

Nelson underwent the donation procedure at a hospital in February. They initially made a decision to use intravenous therapy to harvest the stem cells instead.

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Within a day, the doctors had come up with a new plan, which involved putting him under a local anesthetic that would allow him them to monitor his breathing while they extracted his bone marrow, he said.

Westfield High School's student government and parent-teacher organization have organized a vigil at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday in front of Westfield High School at 550 Dorian Road.

"What I came away with was what an wonderful journey he had been on and how proud he was, and how proud that his family was of all that he had accomplished in his life and really all the incredible impact that he had on so many people and kids in all of his academic settings", Cohen said.

'This is a tremendous loss for our community, and I know that our children, and we as parents, will struggle with coming to terms with this over the coming days and weeks, ' Brindle said.

Nelson's family said he had recently reenlisted in the Army.

"He was the type of man that used authority but was still such an approachable man", another student recalled. I know you all join me in offering our deepest sympathy and prayers to Dr. Nelson's family, friends, students, co-workers, and all who were lucky to have known him.

Nelson shared about his desire to help save the 14-year-old boy from France when he found out he was a match, as per the high school's student paper Hi's Eye last February.

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