Brooklyn doctor with 'heart of gold' dies from COVID-19 after saving patients from it

Dr. James Mahoney delayed his retirement to help the fight against the virus.

A Brooklyn doctor who worked to combat COVID-19 in one of the hardest-hit areas at the epicenter of the crisis has succumbed to the virus himself.

Dr. James Anthony Mahoney, whose nickname was “Charlie,” died from COVID-19 on April 27 at NYU Langone Hospital.

The 62-year-old was supposed to retire in January after nearly four decades on the job, but delayed retirement to continue helping patients in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

The beloved pulmonologist spent his time not only working day shifts at University Hospital of Brooklyn, but also working overnight at Kings County Hospital Center --- both of which primarily serve low-income, black families. He started as a student at the hospital’s teaching college in 1982 and never left.

His older brother, Dr. Melvin Mahoney, who retired in 2014, said that he, among other family members, friends and colleagues, urged him to bow out considering the risks amid the pandemic.

“He stayed there because they needed him,” Melvin Mahoney told ABC News.

When he wasn’t talking medicine with his big brother, they enjoyed talking sports and traveling on cruises together. Melvin Mahoney said that the duo has taken over 50 cruises over the years.

Michelle King, who worked alongside him for over 20 years, started out as a clerk and later transitioned into an office manager at SUNY Downstate.

She said that even when James Mahoney first got ill around Easter Sunday, he still sprang into action from home to assist those in need.

“Even when he was sick, he was still checking up on his patients and calling them to make sure they were OK,” King said.

“This is such a great loss. He had a heart of gold...everybody was VIP to him,” King said.

James Mahoney was born in Garden City, New York, and raised by a military father who spent over two decades in the force.

While growing up on Long Island, New York, his impeccable work ethic was groomed, starting at just eight years old. From a laundromat gig to working at a German deli as a child, he took pride in his work. In high school, he excelled both academically and as a standout athlete who played both baseball and football, his family said.

James Mahoney is survived by his three children: Jamie, 31, an actor and musician; Stephanie, 28, a student at Howard University School of Law; and Ryan, 24, a student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

"My dad was like my hero to me. He was a baseball player, I wanted to be a baseball player ... He was a doctor, I ended up going to medical school,” Ryan Mahoney, told ABC News New York affiliate WABC.

His 89-year-old father, Oscar Mahoney, said that he’s proud of his son for serving with "integrity" as one of the heroes working on the frontlines against the coronavirus.

“He wanted you to know that you could count on him ... and he went all the way,” he said.

While Oscar Mahoney said that he believes medical professionals did all they could to save his son, the one thing that still keeps him up at night is the hospital’s lack of necessary equipment amid its ongoing battle against COVID-19.

Oscar Mahoney, a father of five who spent over 20 years in the Air Force, recalls his son -- who often used baseball lingo in conversation-- describing the situation by saying, “you don’t have to have a home run to win the game ... we used what we had.”

“I can’t get over that,” Oscar Mahoney told ABC News.

The coronavirus has devastatingly impacted doctors, nurses, paramedics and other frontline health care workers. The virus also continues to disproportionately impact communities of color across the U.S.

Melvin Mahoney, who said that he’s seen the medical gear shortages first hand, has also observed the glaringly significant differences for hospitals in wealthier communities versus those located in low-income areas.

“Those people that are out there fighting the war, you have to equip them. How can you send a soldier to fight without equipment?” Melvin Mahoney said.