Help Letters: The Hughes Family

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This past summer, my vibrant and happy 13 year old cousin Drew passed away after a skateboarding incident in his neighborhood. It was the first time I’ve been to a young person’s funeral and it was a sobering experience, but the part that really got to me is how amazing his community was and still is. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects and their town is still providing so much emotional support for his family.

Drew’s parents, Kimberly and David, as well as his older brothers Brewer and Zack are an inspiration to me. Throughout the past few months they have advocated on Drew’s behalf and are making an impact on their community. They have started Do It For Drew, a project to live a positive and fulfilling life. Drew was always smiling, active and optimistic and I am so proud of my aunt, uncle and cousins for their grace during a very difficult time.

Kimberly and David are now embroiled in a legal dispute with the hospital where Drew passed away and it has been very, very hard on both of them. They are two of the most good-hearted and positive people I have had the joy of knowing and this recent battle is wearing them down. It has been eight months since Drew has passed away and I want them to know that they still have support and always will.

I also wanted to share a letter from David about Drew and their ongoing battle with the hospital. I fully support Kimberly and David and I hope they can close this chapter soon:

On June 28th, 2013 the staff at Carteret General Hospital took my son, Andrew “Drew” Davis Hughes away from me.

As an employee at Carteret General Hospital I was still at work when one of my other sons called me and told me Drew had been in an accident. My wife and son were at the scene in less than 5 minutes while I was talking to them on the phone. Drew was talking to my wife the entire time and she rode in the ambulance with Drew to Carteret General. I began to feel better knowing he was communicating with her.

When they arrived at Carteret General I was by my son’s side the entire time until they intubated him to transfer him to Vidant. Drew has two older brothers, both of whom have had concussions. As a NC State Trooper and with experiences with my older sons, within minutes of talking to Drew I became less and less concerned. My oldest son had a worse concussion his senior year playing football than Drew appeared to have. I went into the room with him when they performed his CT scan a little over an hour after the accident. Everything came back normal with the exception of air by his right ear, and though none was seen, they suspected a “possible basilar skull fracture”. To demonstrate how aware Drew was, at one point during the CT I needed to remove his shorts for part of the scan. Drew immediately told me “#$%^ no, you’re not taking off my shorts in front of everyone” and I told him that I would leave on his boxers. The staff behind the glass got a good laugh out of this and I even laughed a bit. Drew knew what was going on. It was at this time that he looked me in the eyes and said, “Dad, I’m scared” to which I replied “You’re going to be OK” and I believed that with all my heart. I know my son..he was my best friend.

We then went back to the ED, after some time, they arranged to transport Drew via Carteret General’s EMS service. It was at this time that I was told that they needed to intubate him as a precaution for his safety. I didn’t understand why, he was breathing on his own, but I got the impression I didn’t have a choice and I needed to just trust that the staff knew what they were doing. The worse thing that would happen is he would sleep up to Greenville and everything would be OK. As I walked out of the room I said “I love you” to which Drew replied “I love you too Dad”. Not long after intubating the first time, while still in the ED, Drew woke up and pulled out the tube. This made me nervous. He had not been sedated enough and Drew had the same reaction anyone would have if you woke up and had a tube in your airway. They sedated him further and prepared him for transport. At no time did I fear for his life. My wife came up to me and wanted to kiss him bye and I told her, “you can kiss him when we get to Greenville, he’s fine”. I wanted to get in the car so we could follow them to Greenville. I’m so sorry to my wife for that. Hindsight is 20/20 but at the time I knew he would be OK.

Everyone knows about the ambulance stopping in Havelock. Drew woke up and removed his tube. My wife could see him sit up in the back of the ambulance. He was aware enough to try to stop them from putting in an IV and he even tried to bite the RT who was trying to keep him from removing his tube. AT 3 hours after the accident he is aware of what he is doing and breathing on his own; that is, until four strangers strapped my son down and gave him a paralytic that kept him from moving or breathing on his own. From that point on Drew’s life was over. The thought of Drew being paralyzed and not sedated properly gives me nightmares. If he was aware for even 30 seconds and unable to breathe or move I couldn’t stand it. I was sitting right behind the ambulance and my son, who had no doubt I would always protect him, was having his life taken away and I did nothing to help him. That was my job! Drew went without Oxygen for over 30 minutes because they intubated him improperly. Even though required by the State of North Carolina, the monitoring equipment required to be used for this type of intubation was not used. Even though Drew’s oxygen level began to drop almost immediately after paralyzing him they never attempted to reintubate him or correct his airway, even though they had orders to do so. When the ambulance diverted to Carolina East Medical center the staff there was able to correct the mistake that was made but the damage was done. Drew was aware at 3+ hours after the accident but arrived at Vidant Medical Center with no brain activity. All Vidant could do for Drew was act on what they received not fully knowing what happened to Drew in the ambulance.

The staff of Carteret General Hospital took my son. He was the finishing piece to the puzzle that was our family. He was always happy and brought a balance to our home that was perfect. He was all the things my wife said in her letter and more.

I have always taken responsibility for my actions no matter the consequences and I have tried to teach my sons to do the same. You, Carteret General Hospital, have done nothing to indicate that you are doing anything but trying to do the exact opposite. Many medical professionals have seen Drew’s records. It doesn’t take months to read Drew’s records and know what happened. I’ve left out so many details that show just how bad it was and how negligent the staff was. My life will never be the same because of what you did to our family. We can try to make a change that no other family ever has to endure what we’ve gone through. Parents should not tell us that their children are scared to come to Carteret General because of what happened to Drew.

Please do what is right so that everyone can move on and we can have closure. I sincerely feel it’s in the best interest of the hospital as well. Until my last breath, if necessary, I will fight to make sure Drew did not die in vain. Carteret General can be a hospital to be proud of if the right actions are taken and I do pray for everyone involved. I can not move on until I know that everything that I can do has been done for my son. Drew Hughes will always be my son. He’s in my heart forever.

David Hughes

My heart goes out to this strong family and I know they could use your support. You can email notes for Kimberly, David, Brewer and Zack to or write a handwritten Help Letter to to P.O. Box 6183, Raleigh NC 27628. Please have it postmarked by Monday, March 3rd. 


Help Letters: Scott’s Story

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Welcome to the very first Help Letter post! As a reminder of how it all works, below is the story of an incredible man who is recovering from heart surgery. We invite you to read through his story, then it’s time for action! Pick up your pens and write him a card, send him a kind email, draw him a picture. Heart surgery and the long recovery process can be tough. Let’s help make it a little easier.

I am excited to have Scott’s story as the first Help Letter because it truly has been a community effort so far. A reporter out of North Dakota originally contacted me with Scott’s story, and since then, Scott’s friends and family have been providing details about Scott’s passion for his community and his road to recovery.

The recommendation below is from Ashley, our reporter friend:

“Scott is a middle school teacher in Mandan, ND. He recently spent a couple of weeks at Mayo Clinic undergoing and recovering from heart surgery after suffering a heart aneurysm. He is a beloved social studies teacher. The treatments and time away from work are putting a strain on the family. To be away from home, go through numerous heart surgeries and worry about finances this time of year must be stressful. A little note to encourage him and his family through the healing process and unknowns and up and downs of surgery after surgery I think would go a long way.”

Okay, team, let’s get to work writing those notes of encouragement! You can email your get well messages to Scott at or write a handwritten card to P.O. Box 6183, Raleigh NC 27628. You have two weeks to send off your well-wishes. Please postmark by February 17th, 2014.

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Give the Gift of Help Letters!

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Rushing around searching for that perfect holiday gift? Looking for something unique and meaningful? We’ve totally got you covered.

If you recommend a loved one by this Friday, December 20th, we will send that special person a Help Letters package in time for Christmas. It’ll include a handwritten card from us, an introduction to what Help Letters is, and a little surprise gift. Then their story will be shared right here after we launch and they’ll get a SECOND package filled with cards, letters and emails from dozens of people offering them words of encouragement and support. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

So help us help them. Recommend your loved ones. It’s an awesome gift. We promise.

Help Letters: Coming Winter/Spring 2014

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I am so excited to be here, right now, writing this. Like, ready-to-pop-some-bubbly-at-noon-and-throw-myself-a-little-mid-day-dance party excited. Over the past few months, I have been met with so much support for this crazy little idea and today marks the day that I get to share Help Letters with the world. It’s a pretty awesome day.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering what all this excitement is about. What the heck is Help Letters? It’s just a totally free way to help you change lives. Every week, we will add one new post about someone who needs a little extra support. They may be struggling through the loss of a loved one, a broken heart, financial instability or damaged self-esteem… whatever hurdles might be in their path.

Then, you can lift their spirits!  I firmly believe that we have all faced our own challenges and that there is power in words of encouragement, support and hope. Send a card, draw a picture, type up a quick email, share your story, send along a poem. The point is that you are changing this person’s day, their week, maybe their lives. It’s quick, it’s free and it can truly mean the world to someone. Are you as pumped up as I am?!

We are officially launching with weekly letters in 2014, but to make that happen, we need your help now. Take a moment to think about the people in your lives. Is there someone that would benefit from a little extra lovin’? Please take a few minutes to recommend your loved ones for Help Letters.

Thank you to the awesome people who have made Help Letters possible so far and I’m looking forward to strengthening our little community.