About a year ago, Americans were just hearing about the deadly novel coronavirus sweeping across the world.
New York City was one of the hardest-hit areas for COVID-19 infections in those early days, and Jeffrey Gerson was among the first of many patients who flocked to emergency rooms with symptoms of the virus.
On March 13, 2020, Jeffrey came down with a high fever that was like nothing he had ever experienced. He also had a horrible cough, and his condition quickly deteriorated. Soon, he needed supplemental oxygen and was ultimately intubated on a ventilator. He then lost consciousness for four weeks as his body struggled to stay alive.
Throughout it all — and unbeknownst to him at the time — a team of more than 116 health care workers at NYU Langone Hospital were risking their own health and safety to save his life.
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When he finally woke up, there was a nurse in his room. “The moment I opened my eyes, her face lit up, and she said, ‘Do you know where you are? Do you know what you’ve just been through? We’re so happy to see you’re awake. Can I help you call your friends and family?'” Jeffrey explained.
As he recovered, Jeffrey was continuously struck by the bravery and kindness of the health care heroes who had kept him alive. So nearly a year after falling ill, he penned a letter to the entire team of doctors, nurses, aides, and staff who helped him recover. During a recent interview with Today’s Hoda Kotb, Jeffrey read parts of his letter aloud.
“If you’re receiving this letter, it’s because I have become aware that you had a part in saving my life,” he said. “I showed up at the emergency room on March 18, 2020, with 103-degree fever and an uncontrollable cough.”
Jeffrey told them how he had seen “COVID positive” written on his hospital door and realized how dangerous a position they were in by treating him.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about how many of you saw that written on my door and still entered my room anyway to provide me the best possible care,” he continued. “I want you all to know that my life is as full and complete as my recovery, and I have each of you to thank for that. Continue doing what you do. Continue being the heroes you are, and know you will forever have my gratitude.”
When he finished reading, Kotb had a big surprise for Jeffrey. Fifty of the employees who had worked on his case were there on the video call to hear his thank-you letter firsthand! He took the opportunity to thank them again, fighting back tears of gratitude the entire time.
Jeffrey hopes his letter will encourage others to show their gratitude to these hardworking heroes in every community. “I want my son to see this,” he said. “I want him to know this is what you do for people who take care of you in a very special way.”
Watch the full interview in the video below, and be sure to share this story to make someone smile.
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