Zach Braff couldn’t believe the toll the coronavirus wreaked on his friend, Nick Cordero, before the Broadway star’s death on Sunday.
The “Scrubs” alum, 45, remembered Cordero’s final days in the hospital as he discussed the harrowing battle Cordero endured before finally succumbing to the complications inflicted on him from the sickness.
“Just for clarity’s sake, he didn’t have COVID-19 anymore,” Braff told fellow series co-star and show co-host Donald Faison on the Tuesday bout of his “Fake Doctors, Real Friends” podcast. “What COVID did to Nick is what it does to a lot of people, it comes in and wreaks havoc on your body. Then it leaves and you don’t have it anymore, but you’re left with what the doctors called ‘lungs that look like Swiss cheese.’”
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The Tony Award-nominated, 41, actor died after a months-long fight in which he was admitted to the intensive care unit in March and remained hospitalized for more than 90 days.
Braff and Cordero became close once the two done the stage production “Bullets Over Broadway” in 2014. During Cordero’s long bout with virus complications, Braff took in Cordero’s wife Amanda Kloots, 38, and the couple’s 1-year-old son Elvis, in to his Los Angeles home to wait out the fight.
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Braff told Faison that Kloots rarely wavered in her hope Cordero would go back to consciousness and lamented he hated the truth that he and girlfriend Florence Pugh were not able to console Kloots as a result of social distancing regulations.
“We would literally stand 10 feet away from her and watch our friend sobbing,” Braff said. “Can you imagine how tragic this is? Your partner’s in the hospital, you can’t even be there? You can’t be by their side, you can’t hug them, you can’t kiss them, you can’t cheer them on. You have to do it over a FaceTime that a generous nurse has arranged.”
During Cordero’s hospitalization, Kloots sent him daily videos of her and Elvis so that he could see them if he woke up and urged friends and fans to join an everyday sing-a-long.
Cordero entered the er on March 30 and had a succession of health setbacks, including mini-strokes, blood clots, septic infections, a tracheostomy, and a temporary pacemaker implanted. He had been on a ventilator and unconscious and had his right leg amputated. A double lung transplant was being explored.
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Braff said Cordero’s condition worsened and eventually that he was added to a ventilator.
“He just deteriorated, deteriorated, deteriorated, until the point where they put him on the ventilator and then he never came back,” recalled the actor and director. “He kind of woke up for a little bit and there was some exciting moments where they would say, ‘Nick if you can hear us look up,’ and he would do that, but he wouldn’t do it all the time. It was only occasionally.”
Braff said he’s got Kloots and Elvis’ straight back and is committed to ensuring they’re looked after moving forward – in Cordero’s honor.
“There’s so many people that love Amanda and Elvis, and we’re all going to be doing our part to help give this child an extraordinary life,” Braff said. “He just started walking, and he’s just the cutest kid ever. He’s so cute.”
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Braff also paid tribute to his buddy after Kloots announced publicly that Cordero had died.
“I have honestly never known a kinder person. But Covid doesn’t care about the purity of your soul, or the goodness in your heart,” the actor wrote on Instagram. “The last thing he ever texted me was to look out for his wife and one year old son, Elvis. I promise the world they will never want for anything. I feel so incredibly grateful I got to have Nick Cordero enter my life. Rest In Peace. Rest in Power.”
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Braff’s latest declaration is always to make good on a promise that he made in April to Cordero’s family where he told The Hollywood Reporter that he was helping care for Kloots and Elvis amid the grave uncertainty of Cordero’s recovery.
“I’m very close to this because among my close friends in the world, Nick Cordero, and his wife [Amanda Kloots] and baby have now been living in my guest house for seven months because they were house-shopping in L.A. to help make the move out here,” Braff shared at that time, adding that Cordero had coronavirus “worse than anyone I’ve heard of who hasn’t passed away.”
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On the Tuesday podcast, Braff tripled down, adding: “We’re all going to be doing our part to give this child an extraordinary life. I promise that I’m going to do that for the rest of my life and I want to make him proud.”
Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed for this report.