A New Jersey high school principal is being recognized as a hero, for donating bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France. 44-year-old Derrick Nelson underwent the donation procedure at Bergen County in February, but unfortunately, quickly underwent a coma soon after. The man couldn’t move or speak and remained in that condition until he died on April 7, 2019. Authorities stated Nelson didn’t know who the boy was, but he was ultimately trying to help after learning he had matched with the boy.
Bone marrow donation is considered to be generally safe, but the National Marrow Donor Program do note that “no medical procedure is risk-free.” According to NMDP, 99 percent of bone marrow donors completely recover within a few weeks. There is a small percentage of donors, about 2.4 percent, who may experience serious complications due to damage to the bone, muscle, nerve or anesthesia problems.
Nelson’s family is in shock, stating they still don’t know what happened to their son, who is the father of a 6-year-old girl. Nelson served as principal since February 2017, previously vice principal of Westfield Junior High School (Roosevelt International School) since 2010.
The father, who was a role model to many, was described as someone with immense character who was selfless. Besides his work with education, Nelson had served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve for more than 10 years. He had recently re-enlisted, after completing service in the Middle East. School Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan stated Nelson was a gift to Westfield High and had a strong moral compass.
The beloved principal is survived by his fiance, his 6-year-old daughter, and his parents. Westfield Public School will have counselors on hand to speak with students and parents about how to deal with the death of a loved one.
It looks like Nelson lived 44-years of joy. Rest in Peace, soldier.