‘I am alive and well as the result of your skill and tireless efforts’

Nov. 12, 2020
Dr. Michael Leonard with his granddaughter, Hazel. Photos courtesy of the Leonard family.

Dr. Michael Leonard had to spend 34 days on a ventilator after becoming one of the first patients in Colorado to become critically ill with COVID-19 in March.

Leonard also was the first patient in Colorado to receive convalescent plasma and now, he’s recovering well and delighting in spending time with his first grandchild, a girl named Hazel who was born in late September.

Leonard and his wife, Meg, are both grateful to the medical providers who saved his life. They’re sad to see hospitals filling up with critically-ill COVID-19 patients again.

“At a time of increasing duress and stress for our health care system and our skilled clinicians, I would like to offer a few thoughts,” said Leonard, who is an anesthesiologist and a health care consultant.

“I am alive and well as the result of your skill and tireless efforts during my 40 days in the ICU with COVID at UCHealth,” Leonard said.

“You all clearly saved my life against serious odds. I continue to get well, can ride a Peloton bike 30 minutes without oxygen, and am enjoying my new granddaughter, the amazing Hazel.

“The work you do is sacred, and I am moved by the ethos and commitment you show every day in caring for patients. You make a difference in people’s lives, and I am here to share my thoughts because of the care you provided for me. I am eternally grateful.”

Meg Leonard also wants to share her gratitude with health care workers who saved her husband’s life and kept her hopes alive during a very challenging time.  (Watch this video to see how a sense of teamwork among care givers has never been stronger.)

Meg Leonard thanked frontline workers for rising up once again to handle a precipitous surge.

“You all must be so worn out, haven ridden this roller coaster of disease for months now,” Meg Leonard said. “I am so grateful to every one of you.”

“Michael was one of the sickest COVID patients (at UCHealth University of Colorado) in the ICU and on a ventilator in March, April and part of May. Thanks to YOU he survived. And also, thanks to you, my family and I endured those awful days maintaining a sense of hope, knowing that he was well cared for,” Meg Leonard said.

“You helped us most when we felt desperate, said yes to most of our requests, helped to calm and reassure us when his prognosis appeared so bleak. Though I was not allowed to visit, you helped to facilitate iPad visits, a Nest cam and photos to help him reorient. You helped him to stand at a window during his recovery, so we could see each other from afar.

“Not only did you save his life, but you helped me hope that a recovery was possible.  There were many days when I thought I might lose my mind with worry, and you were there to listen and reassure, not by giving false hope, but by letting me know you were doing all that was possible to help him through.  Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, ward clerks, chaplains, social workers,  psychologists, rehabilitation experts, nursing assistants, maintenance workers, security folks….I am sure I have left someone out of this list, but I hold each and every one of you near to my heart,” Meg Leonard said.

Baby Hazel.

“Michael has recovered unbelievably well. With the exception of some lingering breathing problems, he has no ongoing issues.  We are so lucky and appreciative for his continuing life. To add some icing to the cake, our daughter just gave birth to our first grandchild, in late September. That Michael is here to celebrate her arrival means the world to us all.

“So please know how your efforts have changed the course of the life of this one family.  We will never forget it.”

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.