EXCLUSIVE: Omaha man dying of COVID urges others to get vaccinated

"The thing that we've done wrong in this country is politicize COVID"
Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 12:50:23-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An Omaha man who refused to get vaccinated is now dying from COVID. He and his family reached out to 3 News Now, 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. 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,'" Mike said.

His physician, Dr. Zachary DePew said the virus has taken a heavy toll on Mike.

"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.

Mike 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, we need to get the politics out of it and let the healthcare professionals sort this out and figure out what the real science is behind all of this," Mike said.

Mike had reservations about the vaccine and didn't understand all the 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," Mike 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 Mike'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," Mike said.

His 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.

Mike feels compelled to ask the public for one thing before saying "goodbye."

"Love," Mike 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 and is expected to pass away. Dr. DePew said if you know anyone who isn't vaccinated, do your part and ask them to get the vaccine.

UPDATE: Omaha man who urged others to get vaccinated has died after battling COVID-19

EXCLUSIVE: Man dying of COVID urges others to get vaccinated

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracker