Sanaz Nezami, 27, passed away on December 16 at Marquette General in Marquette, MI after her new husband Nima Nassiri allegedly beat her on December 6. Thanks to technology, her parents in Iran were able to see her and say their goodbyes.
The technology also formed a bond between the nurses and doctors and Nezami’s parents. The family was delighted to see someone show strong compassion for a stranger from a different culture. It provided much needed comfort 6,000 miles away.
The family’s faith in the staff led to consent for an extraordinary donation: Nezami’s heart, lungs and other life-saving organs were transplanted to seven people in the U.S., a remarkable gift that occurs in less than one percent of all cases.
“We wanted God to perform a miracle and bring Sanaz back to life,” her sister, Sara Nezami, said in a phone interview from Tehran. “But this is a miracle. Sanaz gave her life in order to give life.”
A nurse who took care of Sanaz Nezami said her brief stay, especially the high-tech way of communicating with family, was ‘eye-opening’ for staff at Marquette General Hospital.
“The family was willing to trust us to know she wasn’t coming back,” Kim Grutt said.
Nezami’s sister said she and Nassiri met online. Nezami married him in August and moved to Los Angeles to live with him. She had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s in French translation, and was working towards a PhD in environmental engineering at Michigan Tech University. She was fluent in French, English, and Persian. Her family knew something was wrong when she asked her sister Sara to proofread English-to Persian translations on December 6. On December 7, she was rushed to the local hospital with severe head injuries and then flown to Marquette General.
“Her brain was so swollen and so damaged, there was no longer any blood flow,” explained Gail Brandly, who supervises nurses at Marquette General.
After about 24 hours, the hospital reached relatives in Iran. Immediate travel to the U.S. was impractical due to visa requirements, so a laptop was set up so the family could see Nezami on life support and talk to nurses and doctors over Yahoo Messenger.
“It isn’t something we’ve done in the past. It’s not every day we’re dealing with family members so far-flung,” said Dave Edwards, spokesman for the hospital.
At one point, Grutt, the nurse, was asked to stroke Nezami’s head and kiss her forehead.
“They wanted us to do things for Sanaz that they would have done,” Grutt said. “They said, ‘Let her know we love her. We’re here.’ I felt completely comfortable.”
Her family wants everyone to know Nezami loved America. She was buried at Marquette’s Park Cemetery, and her funeral was attended mostly by people who took care of her. The hospital’s chaplain, Rev. Leon Jarvis, read Muslim prayers and told Nezami’s father she will never be forgotten.
“I’ve never seen anyone so quickly adopted by so many,” Jarvis said. “Considering our season right now, this was an incredible gift by Sanaz, but also a gift from the community as well. It’s realizing the goodness of humanity and what people can do in a real cynical time.”
Nassiri was arrested on December 8 and charged with assault to do great bodily harm. After Nezami passed away, court officials canceled his original hearing and amended the charges to second-degree murder.