SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — What’s it like for a Jewish doctor to treat a coronavirus patient covered with Nazi Tattoos? One Sacramento doctor shared a moment of struggle on Twitter, and his story is now going viral.

“Some of my favorite conversations with patients have been, just about that, talking to them about their tattoos,” said Dr. Taylor Nichols.

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Dr. Nichols, a Jewish doctor in Sacramento, says he’s cared for patients with offensive tattoos before, but two weeks ago, for the first time, he questioned his compassion.

“It’s a symbol of hate, it challenged me a bit,” he said.

On Twitter, Dr. Nichols describes the encounter. The older man arrived by ambulance, struggling to breathe, and told Dr. Nichols, “Don’t let me die, doc.” As his shirt came off and he was put on a breathing machine, the man’s SS and swastika tattoos broadly on display.

Dr. Nichols promised he’d do his best.

“With this patient, I really didn’t have an opportunity to talk to him. I was only left with the impact that that symbol had on me,” he said.

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Every coronavirus patient is a risk, and for the first time in his career, Nichols questioned whether he wanted to keep that promise.

“It challenged me in a way that I didn’t really expect,” Nichols said.

On Twitter, Dr. Nichols asked what would his patient think about a Jewish doctor taking care of him, and what would happen if the roles were reversed? He says the pandemic has weighed heavily on him for months, with no end in sight as a new surge pushes doctors to their limits.

“Part of that is the stress that we’re under right now, and I know other members of my team feel similarly,” he said.

The incident happened two weeks ago, and since then, Dr. Nichols’s Twitter thread of 17 tweets have been shared hundreds of thousands of times. Nichols says he doesn’t know whether that patient survived, but in the end, says he did everything he could to save his life.

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Marissa Perlman