Monday, September 20

A Purple Heart vet who fought in Afghanistan died of a treatable disease while waiting hours for an ICU bed


  • Purple Heart vet Daniel Wilkinson waited seven hours for an ICU bed in Texas before he died.
  • He needed to get a gallstone removed but doctors couldn’t find him an available ICU bed.
  • “He served two deployments over in Afghanistan, came home with a Purple Heart, and it was a gallstone that took him out,” his mom said.

A veteran who served two deployments in Afghanistan died Sunday of a treatable disease because doctors couldn’t find him an empty ICU bed.

Daniel Wilkinson died of gallstone pancreatitis, a condition that causes pancreatic inflammation and can get serious if not immediately untreated. Wilkinson waited seven hours for an ICU bed in Texas before he died, according to KPRC, a local NBC affiliate.

Wilkinson’s mom, Michelle Puget, took him to the emergency room in Texas on Saturday, where a doctor told him he’d need to have a gallstone removed in the ICU.

“The doctor was trying to find him an ICU bed,” Puget told KPRC. “He said,’We have been refused so far.’ He said,’We have called Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Colorado.'”

After hours of hospital staff trying desperately to find Wilkinson, a Purple Heart vet, an ICU, the family heard that another hospital in Texas had a bed he could occupy. They arranged plans to bring him to that hospital by helicopter.

But by that point, Wilkinson’s organs began shutting down, KPRC reported.

“I think the doctors did everything they could once they got him,” Puget said. “But … it had been [seven] hours. And it’s something that needed to be taken care of right away.”

“He loved his country,” Puget said on CBS. “He served two deployments over in Afghanistan, came home with a Purple Heart, and it was a gallstone that took him out.”

Because of rising cases of the coronavirus, there are limited ICU beds in several parts of the country, causing doctors to make difficult medical decisions. One hospital in Mississippi, for example, told Insider its staff is canceling life-altering brain and heart surgeries because there aren’t enough ICU beds.

In Texas, a judge grimly warned parents that they’ll have to wait for another child to die before their own kid can get an ICU bed. And recently, a man who was shot six times was forced to wait at least a week before getting vital surgery.

Positive coronavirus cases continue to surge in Texas. As of Friday, Texas reported more than 13,700 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and only 325 available ICU beds.

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