KEY POINTS

  • Jeff Sales was a nurse who used to serve in the army
  • He contracted a fever that caused a hole in his heart when he served in Korea
  • He went on with his nursing career even after leaving the army

A U.S. Army veteran who worked as a nurse in the COVID-19 unit of a Florida hospital has died just hours after testing positive for the virus.

Jeff Sales, 47, tragically died while working at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida, where he served the COVID-19 unit for more than two years.

Jeff, who was fully vaccinated, tested for the virus on Jan. 21 after his coworkers noticed him looking unwell during the shift. His condition soon deteriorated, and he died of heart failure less than 12 hours after discovering he had contracted the virus, his family said, according to KUTV. 

"We were all talking to him that morning, and it just all went downhill extremely fast," Jeff's son, Austin Sales, recalled.

The proud army veteran and father of four served in Korea at the young age of 22. During his tenure, Jeff contracted a fever that caused a hole in his heart. He then underwent open-heart surgery to place a metal valve in his heart.

Jeff wanted to continue serving people even after leaving the army, so he went on with his nursing career. When the pandemic hit, the orthopedic unit where he worked was converted to a COVID-19 unit. Jeff continued his mission there even though he was aware of the risks, considering his heart condition.

"Even though he was a high risk of potentially passing if he contracted it due to his heart, he said he wanted to help as many people as he could, so he took the job anyway," said Jeff's other son, Brayden Sales, according to Wesh.com.

After realizing Jeff had COVID-19, the hospital did its best to provide him treatment, the family said.

"They had the entire hospital working on him, and I couldn't have asked for a better medical staff. They loved him just as much as we did, and he spent just as much time with them as he did us," Brayden added.

Jeff worked overnights and many extra shifts in the past two years, helping as many people as he could, the family noted in the GoFundMe page they set up.

"He literally gave his life trying to save others," the family said further.

Hospital Beds Pictured: Representative image of hospital beds. Photo: Silas Camargo Silão - Pixabay