Rosie Brooks and sister Brenda Bennett-Johnson had prepared their brother's funeral arrangements before learning that they had taken the wrong man off of life support

By Joelle Goldstein
June 15, 2019 01:10 AM
Rosie Brooks

A family in Chicago went through an emotional roller coaster recently when they pulled their brother off of life support, only to learn that he was, in fact, alive and the man who they made the medical decisions for was a stranger.

Since the “sad” incident last month, Rosie Brooks and her sister Brenda Bennett-Johnson have been left wondering how this mix up could’ve happened at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, CNN affiliate WBBM reports.

“It’s sad it happened like that,” Bennett-Johnson told the outlet. “If it was our brother and we had to go through that, that would have been a different thing. But we made all kinds of decisions on someone that wasn’t our family.”

Representatives at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center declined to comment “on the care of any patient at any time, while alive or after death.”

The dramatic ordeal first began on May 13 when Brooks received a call from a hospital staff member notifying her that her brother, Alfonso Bennett, was in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

Bennett was reportedly discovered on April 29 near a local intersection in the area, naked and without any identification, according to the outlet.

The man who was believed to be Alfonso Bennett

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“She identified herself as Jennifer from Mercy Hospital,” Brooks recalled. “She was a social worker. She was looking for relatives of Alfonso Bennett, and I told her that was my brother. And she said, ‘Well, he’s here in ICU.'”

Brooks said she instantly rushed to the hospital with her sister, where they saw “their brother” with a ventilator and a tube in his mouth.

It was difficult, however, for them to confidently identify Bennett due to the fact that his face was badly beaten and he rarely kept in touch with his four sisters. Despite being unsure, the sisters said hospital staffers insisted that it was Bennett.

“They kept saying CPD identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson recalled to WBBM, adding that a nurse told her he was identified through mugshots, but could not be fingerprinted because of “budget cuts” — a reason that seemed peculiar to her.

“You don’t identify a person through a mugshot versus fingerprints,” she told the outlet. “Fingerprints carries everything.”

Brenda Bennett-Johnson

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Because the man’s health was steadily declining, Brooks and Bennett-Johnson made the difficult decision to take their “brother” off of life support and started to prepare his funeral arrangements, including purchasing a casket and suit.

Things suddenly — and drastically — changed when they both received calls from their sister Yolanda telling them that Bennett had just walked through her front door and he was alive and well.

As Brooks remembered it, Yolanda kept yelling, “‘It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!'” while Bennett-Johnson explained that she “almost had a heart attack” from the unexpected news.

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As for the other man, he was later properly identified at the morgue through fingerprints. His identity has not yet been released, as police are currently searching for his family.

A Mercy Hospital spokesperson did, however, confirm to WBBM that the family identified the unknown man as their brother, Bennett.

In the meantime, an investigation is currently underway by the Chicago Police Department and they are taking this case “very seriously,” according to the outlet.

“To say that we currently have questions is an understatement,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. “We have detectives looking into every aspect of this incident – from the incident response to the circumstances leading to the hospitalization and the notification of family members. Details to follow as we learn more.”

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