Even Tragedy is Not Unique: Distressed Reader Letter (one of many)
While Damon was a unique individual whose remarkable life I tried to honor and celebrate in Immortal Bird, I have long understood that his case was not unique. The human negligence and carelessness, and the series of misdiagnoses and medical errors that led to his wrongful death, happens every day in hospitals across America (just as many wonderful physcians perform life-saving acts every day). This was one motive for writing Immortal Bird, and for bringing our lawsuit against New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center: to expose the problem, bring those responsible to account, and prevent such tragedies from happening again. I have received many letters with similar stories. Below is one that struck a familiar, painful chord.
Dear Mr Weber
I just finished reading your moving memoir ” Immortal Bird” and I truly beg you to please contact me. I recently lost my husband ( I will send his obit and pictures in a separate email) under such parallel circumstances at Col-Presby that I was screaming and crying as I read the end of your book.
I am completely devastated but I too must push for accountability for the unnecessary loss of his life. Your thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated.
The arrogant and dismissive manner in which we were treated was unbelievable to me–until I read about your experience!!
The ” unintensive” care that we received in ICU, the absence of appropriate care on the weekends and before and during holidays, the multiple layers of errors, the hovering outside his room in the minutes prior to his passing, and the cavalier response of nurses are just a few of the issues we faced. I and our 2 daughters were with him around the clock and the disrespect exhibited when we asked questions was shocking. I had to request special meetings on 5 different occasions.
The downward spiral was precipitated by the sepsis and surgical errors after his transplant. Post-death we have had to deal with medical record fiascos!! Col-Presby is proving to be a profit center for sure…!
The world lost an incredible treasure when it lost Damon!! My husband was also a treasure– a beautiful soul who dedicated his life to serving the underserved in our society.