"I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such selfless people in my life," Nic Brown said of the doctors and nurses that saved his life

By Claudia Harmata
March 30, 2020 01:22 PM
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Credit: Nic Brown

After fighting for his life against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), one Ohio man made sure the team of doctors and nurses that treated him knew how much he appreciated them.

Earlier this month, Nic Brown, a 38-year-old IT executive, was diagnosed with the virus after being sent to the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover, Ohio, when he came down with a series of its symptoms.

There, he was put into isolation and struggled to survive on a ventilator. Throughout his difficult recovery, the team of medical professionals assigned to Brown would often write uplifting messages on his window as they tried to save his life.

“Every day I was there, especially when I was on a ventilator and full life support, the staff would write on the window the goals for me to try and reach each day,” Brown told the Cleveland Clinic for their blog. “They would encourage me. One day someone wrote, ‘We will get you home.’”

After making a full recovery from the virus, Brown decided to return the favor.

“This window has been the most impactful window of my life,” he wrote on the glass. “On days when I watched you work hard to keep me and others alive, unable to thank you for the time that you poured into me and although I will probably never get the chance to pour that same love and support into you, I want you yo know that I think you all are rockstars.”

“I watched some of you have good nights and some bad nights, but what was consistent every night was that you care for people,” his heartwarming note continued. “Today I leave this ICU a changed person, hopefully for the better, not only because of your medical healing and God’s direction and guidance but with the fact of knowing that there are such wonderful people dedicated the care and concern of others.”

Nic Brown and wife Cassie
| Credit: Cleveland Clinic

Brown explained that he felt compelled to leave the message for the staff after seeing how selflessly they put their own lives at risk to care for complete strangers.

“Part of why I left the note on the window is because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such selfless people in my life. I really saw the love of God through them,” he told the Cleveland Clinic. “They don’t know me, but they cared for me like I was a member of their family. It’s been life-altering.”

According to Dr. Eduardo Mireles-Cabodevila, a pulmonologist and director of Cleveland Clinic’s MICU, Brown — who lives with his wife, Cassie, their son and two daughters — was one of the first COVID-19 patients treated at the hospital.

“We’ve learned a lot from Nic and our other early (COVID-19) patients,” Mireles-Cabodevila said. “When critical illness hits, the way the lungs and other organs recover has to do with the disease itself as well as how we take care of it. We instituted a protocolized approach so they could heal while giving him therapies to control the virus.”

Brown was diagnosed in mid-March, after first thinking he had come down with the flu. However, his medical history with asthma and heart arrhythmia sent him to an urgent care near his home before he was finally transported to the MICU.

“You really don’t understand the vulnerability of the human body until you face something like this,” he told the clinic. “There was a time during this process where the hospital reached out to my wife and had to have the discussion about end-of-life-options. My message is for everyone to take more seriously what the impact of this can have on a person.”

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Mireles-Cabodevila and other medical staff at the Cleveland Clinic said it “meant a lot” to see Brown’s uplifting note when he left.

“It’s definitely inspiring to see a patient acknowledge the work we’re doing,“ Jordan Bensch, one of the nurses who cared for Brown, said. “We’re always trying to put patients first. Knowing they notice that is extremely rewarding.“

Brown was discharged and sent home on March 27, after nearly two weeks in the hospital.

“Just the ability to get back to the point where I can pick up my two little girls, hug them, and you know, hug my wife. I feel like I’ve got a second chance at life,” he said.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.