After evaluating hundreds of submissions, we have selected the winner for our Hach & Rose, LLP Annual College Scholarship for 2020. This year’s winner is a young man named Ben Collier.
When he was 11 years old, Ben lost his father to a string of medical complications that began after a surgeon failed to correctly complete a gastric sleeve operation. The surgeon failed to correctly suture Ben’s father’s stomach after the procedure, resulting in his stomach’s contents leaking into his body, causing severe infection. Ben describes this as “just the first thing that went wrong in a series of unfortunate events.” It seemed that each time the hospital fixed an issue it caused, a new one sprang up. In a matter of days, Ben’s father was put on a ventilator. Soon after, an infection near his colon needed to be drained, a procedure that the doctor described as “no big deal.” A few hours after the infection was drained, Ben’s father went into septic shock, his organs “shutting down by the minute,” as Ben describes it.
His father was taken by helicopter to a trauma hospital, where he saw steady improvements in both his care and condition. After a few months he was able to return home, while attending rehabilitation for all of the trauma his body had been through. Tragically, Ben’s father suddenly fell ill and died. The family soon discovered that the cause of his death was E. coli bacteria in his bloodstream, a tragedy that could have been avoided had the rehabilitation facility taken regular bloodwork as it should have.
Ben grew up without his father as a result of mistakes made by multiple healthcare providers at multiple points in time. Despite such a gut-wrenching setback, Ben graduated high school on the honor roll. He now attends West Texas A&M University, where he studies computer information systems. He says that “Although it has been a struggle not to fall into anger at all of the negligence we have experienced, I am trying my best to use my grief and turn it into doing good for others.”