LA
04/14/2013 01:57 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2013

Brett Shaad Dead After Family Decides To Remove Him From Life Support

WEST HOLLYWOOD -- Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old West Hollywood, Calif. man, is dead after being removed from life support Saturday evening.

Shaad, who had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis just four days earlier, was removed from life support at 6:24 p.m. and died at 6:42 p.m. at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills, Calif.

His brother Brian Shaad released this statement to The Huffington Post and other news outlets: "Tonight our family made the incredibly difficult decision to remove my brother Brett from life support. He died peacefully surrounded by our family and friends."

“Brett was an extraordinary person," Brian Shaad continued. "He was a loving son, brother and grandson, an attorney with a deep passion for social justice, and a dear friend to so many people. We cannot believe that this wonderful person is gone. We love you Brett."

Brett Shaad began to feel sick on Monday and visited the emergency room Wednesday, reports the Associated Press. By Thursday, he was in a coma. By Friday, doctors declared him brain dead.

The speed and severity of Brett Shaad's infection prompted West Hollywood officials to issue a public health warning to the city's large gay community about a deadly strain of bacterial infection.

"We don't want to panic people,” said West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran during the Friday press conference. “But we learned 30 years ago the consequences of delay in the response to AIDS. We are sounding the alarm that sexually active gay men need to be aware that we have a strain of meningitis that is deadly on our hands,” continued Duran.

Duran also told the Associated Press that he had seen Brett Shaad during the weekend of March 30 at the White Party, an event in Palm Springs that attracts thousands of members of the gay community.

But the Shaad family has criticized Duran's statements about Brett Shaad, especially when Duran mistakenly released a message Friday that he had been taken off life support.

A spokeswoman for the Shaad family alluded to the misinformation in a statement that came with the announcement of Brett Shaad's death.

“The Shaad family asks for privacy at this painful time, which has been made more devastating by irresponsible and inaccurate reports on the circumstances of Brett’s death," wrote the rep. "The family wants, and will pursue, answers for how and why this happened.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis can spread through "the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing)," but not casual contact or breathing the same air as an infected person.

Symptoms can include a sudden fever, headache and stiff neck, as well as nausea, vomiting, confusion and increased sensitivity to light.

Shaad's death follows a recent outbreak of a deadly meningitis strain among New York City's gay community; 22 men have been diagnosed since 2010 and 7 have died, reports the New York Times. It's unclear whether the strains are related, said the Times.

Members of the community mourn Brett Shaad's death on Twitter.

Community Mourns Brett Shaad

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