PHOENIX - A local veteran who battled COVID-19 in the ICU is thanking the nurses and doctors who saved his life not once, but twice.
On Feb. 10, workers at the VA Hospital in Phoenix got a special surprise.
"This is the first time it made me think what would happen if I was gone," said Gerald Bittle.
Bittle, a Vietnam vet, has had a number of close calls over the years.
"My first close call I was 14 and I fell off a cliff," said Bittle.
At the age of 17, Bittle narrowly avoided several near-fatal accidents in the Navy, but his latest shave with death was during summer 2020, while he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
"I kept checking my oxygen level, and oxygen was going down and temperature was going up," said Bittle.
Nurses at the VA hospital in Phoenix say he stopped breathing twice, but once again, Gerald made it through. After two weeks in the ICU, he got to come home.
On Feb. 10, months following his hospital stay, Bittle presented health care workers who saved his life with a thank-you poster. The poster will be hung right outside the ICU.
"They don’t get enough recognition, and I figured this would help do that," said Bittle.
Bittle says he’s forever grateful for these healthcare heroes, and in honor of them, he’ll continue to live out the rest of his days to the fullest, giving back some of that kindness to others in need.
"Just keep moving on and helping others as best I can," said Bittle.