Nebraska man dies after he couldn't find an ICU bed due to COVID patients overwhelming hospitals

A Nebraska man needed emergency medical care, but no space was available since hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and he died 18 hours later, KETV reports.

According to a friend of Mark McConnaughey, they tried calling 23 hospitals for the 57-year-old before they finally found a hospital in Des Moines that would take him. They airlifted McConnaughey to the hospital, but he later died on Aug. 18.

"I, never as a physician, thought we'd be transferring our patients out of state. That we wouldn't be able to take care our own Nebraskans," said McConnaughey's friend Mike Zaruba, who is also a doctor.

Zaruba said McConnaughey had a severe shoulder injury that worsened. He told KETV that he believes McConnaughey may have also had an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection that played a role in his death.

"That triggered an inflammatory response through his body that cause multi-organ failure," Zaruba said, who added that although McConnaughey never was tested for COVID-19, many of the signs were there. McConnaughey was reportedly fully vaccinated.

"I am not a big believer in mandates, but I am a big believer in doing what's right," Zaruba said. "Help our hospital systems, help our nurses, help our staff so we don't have to call 23 hospitals when it's your loved one that's in the ER that we're trying to find a bed for."