Local News

Family mourns 82-year-old man who died of coronavirus after surgery

Posted October 12, 2020 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2020 5:25 p.m. EDT

— After experiencing back pain, 82-year-old Gene Waters was taken to WakeMed Hospital for non-emergency surgery in early August.

“I told them I had some concerns with covid and with him being 82," his daughter Crystal Bennett said. She was told the hospital was taking precautions, which she assumed meant a test would be administered.

The surgery went well, and he was released on August 9th.

"I've spoken to the doctor and I know that there was no blood work done for covid and no rapid test either the day he went in,” Bennett said.

Dr. Chris DeRienzo with WakeMed says they do not test all patients before surgery but patients are screened with a questionnaire.

A few days after Waters was released from the hospital, Bennett says he started showing symptoms of COVID-19, so they took him back to WakeMed. This time, Bennett requested a coronavirus test, which came back positive.

Less than three weeks later, Waters died, and the cause: COVID pneumonia.

“Oh gosh it’s always sad for me to hear," Dr. DeRienzo said. "It’s unclear where he might have been exposed to it, but we do know people can be asymptomatic... My heart goes out to them and I can’t speak on any individual cases,”

WRAL News reached out to other local hospitals for their procedures. Both Duke and UNC hospitals test patients two to three days before all surgeries.

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