Veteran and Nurse Dies of COVID After Testing Positive at Work: 'Everything Happened Quickly'

Jeff Sales, who was fully vaccinated and worked in a COVID-19 unit at his Florida hospital, had a pre-existing heart condition, his family said

Jeff Sales
Jeff Sales. Photo: GoFundMe

Army veteran and longtime nurse Jeff Sales, who worked in his Florida hospital's COVID-19 unit throughout the pandemic, has died from the virus. He was 47.

Sales was at work on Jan. 21 when "another nurse commented that he didn't look great," his sister-in-law RaeAnn Christensen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

"Although fully vaccinated he tested positive for Covid and went into heart failure," Christensen continued, going on to note that Sales had a heart condition.

Sales, who leaves behind a wife and four children, tragically died just 12 hours after testing positive for the virus, according to CBS affiliate KUTV.

"Everything happened quickly, but even to the end, Jeff thought about his family whom he loved so much," Christensen wrote on GoFundMe. "He was the best dad and husband."

In an update on Tuesday, Christensen wrote that his wife, Chanda Sales, had since contracted the virus, but "is doing okay & has 4 very worried caretakers taking really good care of her."

Sales first became aware of his heart condition while serving in South Korea as a medic, Christensen wrote.

When he was 22 years old, Sales was diagnosed with a hole in his heart, which doctors repaired with a metal valve, according to NBC affiliate WFLA. However, after contracting the virus, his heart valve failed.

"His body just couldn't fight," Christensen wrote on the GoFundMe page, which has raised nearly $60,000 for Sales' family.

Jeff Sales
Jeff Sales and Chanda Sales. GoFundMe

More than anything, Sales' family will remember him for his lifelong dedication to helping others. Even after being diagnosed with a heart condition, he was committed to becoming a nurse.

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"That didn't stop him from his dream," his sister-in-law wrote on the GoFundMe page. "He worked at Rocky Mountain Care, Lakeview Medical Hospital in Bountiful, then Blake Medical Center in Florida."

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His son Brayden told ABC affiliate WWSB that although his father knew the health risks he faced at work given his heart condition, he still requested to work at his hospital's COVID-19 unit.

"He wanted to help as many people as he could," Brayden told the outlet. "So, he wanted to be on the higher volume unit and take as many shifts as he can."

Knowing that Sales was able to keep making a difference until the very end has provided some comfort for the family.

"As hard as it is to say, I wouldn't change it for the world and I know he wouldn't either because that's what he loved," Brayden added. "And if he wasn't doing what he loved, he wouldn't have been happy."

The GoFundMe page was made to help the family with medical bills, a funeral, family travel as a result of Sales' death as well as mounting bills Chanda faces, as her husband was their sole provider, Christensen wrote. So far it has raised more than $62,000. Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe campaign can do so here.

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 the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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