A pair of sisters were forced to make the difficult decision to turn off their brother’s life support, after they were told he had been badly beaten and was left on a ventilator in intensive care, only to find out he was actually alive.
Brenda Bennett-Johnson and Rosie Brooks received a life-changing phone call on May 13 from a social worker at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, USA, who told them their brother Alfonso Bennett had been found naked and badly beaten, with no ID on his person, reports CBS Chicago.
The sisters rushed to their brother’s side, however due to his injuries the man’s face was not easily recognisable. Despite this, police allegedly told the sisters they had identified Bennett from his mugshot, rather than taking the victim’s fingerprints.
“They kept saying CPD [Chicago Police Department] identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson told the news outlet. “You don’t identify a person through a mugshot versus fingerprints, fingerprints carry everything.”
However, it emerged after the man’s death that Alfonso was still alive and the sisters had actually made a series of serious medical care decisions about someone they had no connection to, including approving a tracheotomy and switching off life support.
Despite their doubts about his identity, the sisters kept a vigil at his bedside until he passed away, even paying for a coffin, suit and funeral arrangements for the man they believed to be their brother.
However, following the man’s death, the sisters received a phone call from their sister Yolanda who told them Alfonso had just turned up at her home, telling them “it’s a miracle”.
“I almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson added. “It’s sad that it happened like that. If it was out brother and we had to go through that, that would have been a different thing.
“But we made all kind of decisions on someone that wasn’t our family.”
The sister’s lawyer Cannon Lambert Sr. told the news outlet: “I cannot conceive of how a budgetary issue would drive whether or not a person who was a John Doe would be fingerprinted before they’re taken off life support. If that’s the situation, something has got to be done.
The ‘John Doe’ was later identified at the morgue through fingerprinting and Chicago Police are currently attempting to track down his relatives.