DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – A Decatur family says a Huntsville doctor is to blame for the death of their son. 27-year-old Adam Willingham died last June of an apparent accidental drug overdose. His parents say Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal provided the prescription drugs. This same doctor is accused of excessively dispensing controlled substances and his authority to prescribe them is now suspended. A move Adam’s parents say comes too late to save their son.
“Adam died of a prescription drug overdose,” says the young man’s father, Jeff Willingham.
“He had been clean. He’d had a problem with drugs before and he’d been clean for a while, and he went to this doctor and he loaded him up and two days later he was dead,” Adam’s mother, Darlene Willingham says.
That doctor was Shelinder Aggarwal. The Willinghams say their son’s only medical history was a broken ankle 10 years before he stepped foot in Dr. Aggarwal’s office. Medical records show he paid Dr. Aggarwal a visit, for back pain, and was prescribed 120 oxycodone pills, 120 methadone tablets, and 90 Xanax pills.
The second visit, just two days before his death, the Willinghams say Aggarwal gave Adam more methadone and Xanax, but the oxycodone was replaced with hydromorphone, otherwise known as Dilaudid or synthetic morphine.
He simply walked in, said he was suffering from chronic back pain and left with a handful of prescriptions? “That’s it,” according to Darlene Willingham, “and it killed him.”
The Willinghams, as you might imagine, have been following the recent developments regarding Dr. Aggarwal with keen interest. They say they feel he is responsible for their son’s death. They showed us medical records from Aggarwal indicating he knew of Adam’s drug problem, yet still prescribed him large quanities of narcotics.
The Willinghams say nothing can bring their son back, but perhaps state medical examiners can prevent another tragedy from occurring. (darlene & jeff willingham)
Fighting back tears, Darlene Willingham said, “It’s destroyed us. It’s a struggle just to get out of bed and go to work and keep on living. When you lose a child like this, just gone, here one day and then gone. It’s just senseless. It shouldn’t have happened.”
The Willinghams say they understand there are those who suffer from debilitating and chronic pain who legitimately rely upon these medicines. But they claim even a cursory examination of their son would have proven he was not one of them.
WHNT News 19 tried repeatedly Wednesday afternoon to reach Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal for comment on this story. None of our calls were returned.
We feel it important to tell you another doctor with the last name Agarwal contacted us. He says since our stories first aired this week he has been getting calls from patients asking if he is the same doctor named in our coverage. His name is Dr. Sanjay Agarwal. He practices medicine in Ardmore, Tennessee and says there is no relation between him and Dr. Shelinder Aggarwal.
A note to this story, Ardmore, TN internal medicine specialist Dr. Sanjay Agarwal is not associated with this report in any way. Dr. Sanjay Agarwal is not under any kind of suspicion or investigation.