Maryland family fighting DC hospital gets a short reprieve

On Friday, a Maryland family fighting for local D.C. hospital not to end the life support for a 37-year-old man tells FOX 5 they got a small reprieve: the hospital has given them a two-week extension.

The Maryland family is fighting to keep Nelson Orellana alive. His brother, Aristides Orellana, told FOX 5 MedStar Washington Hospital Center had informed the family they were planning to terminate life support for Nelson on Saturday, December 12, after issuing a one-week extension.

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Both deadlines were against the family’s wishes. Aristides Orellana says they pleaded with doctors not to terminate.

“Right now our family is devastated. We weren’t expecting the situation right now. My heart is broke right now,” said Orellana.

Orellana joined several teachers, staffers and students from Mary McCleod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School, who held a prayer vigil at the Northwest D.C. hospital in protest.

Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy is where colleagues say Nelson Orellana worked as a gym teacher and with the afterschool program.

“We were really taken that anybody can get sick by the disease. And for the hospital to make the decision that they want to take him off, really kind of hurt us. We didn’t know that they had that kind ability,” said Sanjah Singh, Mary McLeod’s principal.

“If they think that the individual is essentially dying,” said Ozols, “or they’re going to die within a couple of days, that’s basically standard for them to say for there to be a moral imperative. Now in this situation, this individual is a little bit younger. I mean this is more common when someone is 80, 90, they’re at the end of their life.”

Ozols found it odd for a hospital to claim a “moral imperative” due to Nelson’s younger age. He also said it is important for families to have an understanding of the “moral imperative standard,” especially as Coronavirus cases continue to rise.

“Please, I know that you guys, you think you’re trying to do the correct thing, but it’s not. Please give my brother the chance,” said Aristides Orellana before learning of the two-week extension.

A spokesperson with MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in an emailed response:

"Due to federal privacy laws, and out of respect for all patients’ rights to privacy, we are unable to discuss specific patient information. In general, however, we engage family members in every step of the treatment process, and discuss the changing goals of care, which are all focused on patient comfort and dignity."

Nelson’s brother tells FOX 5 they hired an attorney and are working to file an injunction. The family is also searching for another place to move Nelson -- all stress, time and money that many families cannot afford right now.

Back in May, Nelson was hailed a hero. He ran into the fire at his family’s burning Riggs Rd. home in Hyattsville, Maryland. His eyebrows and hair were singed by the fire when FOX 5 spoke with Orellana in May. He was able to save his 83-year-old grandmother from the flames but sadly lost his 55-year-old uncle. Now, his family is trying to save him.