Man who survived COVID thanked over 100 healthcare workers who saved his life

By RADIO.COM

A COVID-19 survivor spent months tracking down the healthcare workers that saved his life.

Jeff Gerson was admitted to NYU Langone Tisch Hospital on March 18 with several symptoms including shortness of breath, an uncontrollable cough, and a 103-degree fever, according to CNN.

He was diagnosed with the novel virus and placed on a ventilator.

The 44-year-old needed two medical interventions -- an ECMO and tracheostomy -- to keep him alive, according to Dr. Luis Angel, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist.

"Soon after he was admitted to our hospital, he developed respiratory failure and pneumonia with COVID," the ICU doctor said.

Since Gerson fell ill early into the pandemic, not much was known about treatment.

"He was very, very sick and we had to keep him under really deep sedation in a way that he couldn't remember anything for at least two or three weeks until his lungs started recuperating with time," Angel added.

After a month-long coma, Gerson was finally able to leave the hospital on April 24.

While he was focused on his recovery, he also wanted to thank the people on the frontline who saved his life.

All 116 of them, to be exact.

According to the publication, he spent five months trying to track down all the medical professionals that helped him.

"I just feel tremendously grateful and lucky," Gerson said. "The story, if there is one, is not necessarily that I survived, but that these people saved my life. I really felt the need to find them, get their names, and thank them,” he explained.

Though he initially wanted to throw everyone a celebration, he realized that during the time he was sedated, the world changed significantly and social distancing became the norm.

He opted for a “thank you” note instead to express his gratitude.

Gerson emailed his letter to a hospital administrator, who passed it along to the appropriate staff.

"If you are receiving this letter, it is because I have become aware that you had a part in saving my life," he wrote. "It is only after much effort on my part to find your names that I would realize just how many of you there were on my care team."

He used a few methods to track down the remaining doctors, nurses, and staff: the MyChart app, a nurse who helped him locate about 60 names, and insurance reports.

"Except for the nurses that I was directly interacting with, there really wasn't an opportunity to say thank you to anybody. It left a void in my emotional recovery," he explained. "Here I am having survived, I'm crying with joy every morning and I feel a huge debt of gratitude to these people who I can't even talk to because they're not coming into my room."

While Angel said the team was just doing their job, he found the letter meaningful.

"You see the significant amount of work that he did and somebody that very likely was going to die in the hospital, makes a full recovery and then he's able to say thank you is very meaningful for us," Angel said.

Gerson successfully reached everyone except for one doctor, Dr. Sydney Mehl, a cardiologist who fell died after contracting the virus while treating patients.

"It occurs to me that this doctor who gave his life fighting Covid, that I was one of the last patients, if not the last patient he treated," Gerson said.

However, he has been in contact with Mehl’s wife and daughter and donated to the doctor's memorial fund.

Gerson said that after sending the letters, he heard from others who also had a hand in his road to recovery.

The current number of people is up to 151.

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