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Effingham Co. widower encourages vaccinations after wife dies from complications brought on by COVID-19

Daniel McLeod and his family
Daniel McLeod and his family(WTOC)
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 11:52 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After losing the love of his life and mother of his children an Effingham County man is sharing his story hoping to encourage others to get vaccinated.

David McLeod is speaking out after losing his wife from complications brought on by COVID-19.

He says him and his wife were unvaccinated and hesitant about getting a vaccine because they were worried about potential side effects. He is sharing his journey t hoping to change people’s minds about getting vaccinated.

If you walk inside Daniel McLeod’s home in Effingham County you’ll see dozens of family pictures, artisan bowls and other trinkets.

They are a special touch left behind by his wife Laurene.

“We met almost 22 years ago,” said McLeod. “We had been married for 17.”

David says Laurene tested positive for COVID-19 after a 4th of July weekend trip, just days after he had tested positive. He says his wife had been recovering at home for about a week and a half.

“Finally that Saturday morning, she called me and said I need to go to the hospital,” said McLeod.

Laurene was admitted to Memorial Health on July 24th. David says she was put on a bypass machine. After doctors told him there was a lack of oxygen getting to her brain, David elected to put Laurene on a ventilator.

She was in there for five weeks, COVID was gone, lung function was improving,” said McLeod. “We were going in the right direction. We were talking about tracheotomies and getting her off ventilators and everything else and then she caught bacterial pneumonia in the lungs and then they had to crank the ventilator back up due to the pneumonia.”

Laurene fought through two bacterial infections and a gastrointestinal bleed, causing her to go on dialysis. Things began improving until doctors found a third bacterial infection.

“I was staying up every night researching,” said McLeod. “What can I do? Reviewing labs. Doing this, doing that trying to see ‘What can I do to get my wife home?;”.

He says he wrote down a list on antibiotics to give to his wife’s doctors.

“They said ‘Well people do not do this.’ I said ‘Well you got to understand she is not a part of my world she is my world.”

Laurene’s temperature hit over 105 degrees August 27th.

“She went from a 105 fever to a 98.6 in five or six hours,” said McLeod.

After feeling that brief relief, Laurene’s health turned for the worst.

“We sat there and watched her,” said McLeod. ‘We sat there and watched her until she passed away and it was the hardest day of my life’.”

He has this message for anyone hesitant about getting vaccinated.

“Go get vaccinated,” said McLeod. “Take care of yourself. Take care of your family. If you don’t do it, do it for your family. Do it for your loved one or just do it for the people around you because I would never think that a 39-year-old healthy female goes into the hospital and never comes back out.”

Since Laurene’s death, Daniel and his 13-year-old son have gotten vaccinated. They will get their second vaccine dose on September 20th.

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