OMAHA, Neb. — An Omaha man who refused to get vaccinated is now dying of COVID-19. Now, he and his family are hoping other people won't make the same mistake.
In a hospital room surrounded by pictures and grandchildren, Mike Leick reflects on a summer of hardship where he went from being a healthy 65-year-old man to dealing with impending death due to COVID-19.
He'll be taken off life support on Monday because his lungs are not functioning.
"It was my doctor who said, 'Mike, you need to go to the hospital, cause I see something worse than what you're being told here,'" Leick said.
His physician, Dr. Zachary DePew, said the virus had taken a heavy toll on Leick.
"He's just been so sick that he's almost unable to even sit up at the side of the bed because his oxygen saturation has dropped with even the littlest amount of exertion, so it's been a huge rollercoaster for all of us," DePew said.
Leick hopes to leave one last message that will sink in for others.
"The thing that we've done wrong in this country is politicize COVID," Leick said. "We need to get the politics out of it and let the health care professionals sort this out and figure out what the real science is behind all of this."
Leick had reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines and didn't understand the science research, so he didn't get his shots.
"Had I known that or been willing to talk to my doctor about it, I would have taken the shot," Leick said. "As it is, I didn't. I was still looking at it, but because I had myself busy and working, I just didn't take time."
Not getting the vaccine determined Leick's fate.
"Ultimately...that cost me my life because I contracted COVID and didn't have the protection that would have minimized the risk of the exposure. I feel bad for my kids for that because they'll miss out the most," Leick said.
Leick's daughter, Erin, is coping with the hard reality that is ahead.
"I knew I would have to bury my dad someday, but I didn't think it would be now," she said.
Leick feels compelled to ask the public for one thing before saying goodbye.
"Love," Leick said. "We forget about love. And if we truly love unconditionally, our family, and if we express the kind of love that God asks us to share with one another, these things wouldn't be issues."
Erin said she's been meeting with attorneys and making funeral arrangements for her father — who will be taken off life support on Monday.
DePew says he hopes anyone who knows a person who has not yet been vaccinated will do their part and encourage others to get the vaccine.
This story was originally published by Isabella Basco on Scripps station KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska.