Bluffton man encourages vaccination after watching wife battle COVID


BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Mike Kirkland describes his wife of close to 30 years as strong, sincere and hardworking. He said watching her battle COVID is one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.

“I thought she was going to die right where I’m sitting,” Mike said. “I swear, that was the hardest 20 to 30 minutes of my life. I was watching her die and I was helpless.”

Mike’s wife has been in the hospital since Sunday after her oxygen level hit 2.5 times below normal. In addition to COVID, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and a blood clot on her lung.

“It’s a crazy disease,” Mike said. “It’s evil, it’s really evil.”

Due to visitor restrictions at the hospital, Mike can’t be by his wife’s side. He says he never feels alone though because of his faith and the outpouring of support from the community.

“It’s like wind,” he said. “You can’t see it, but you can feel it. It’s there and it’s always ready to help you, to prop you up.”

On Thursday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported 77 hospitalizations in Beaufort County — the highest on record. There are 17 patients in the ICU.

More than half of county residents are vaccinated, according to DHEC. Mike said he is vaccinated, but his wife is not. He hopes their story encourages people to get the shot – to avoid what they’re going through.

“I don’t wish it on anybody,” he said. “I don’t know how this is going to turn out. She’s still critical. But at least I lived with her through this whole thing, and that vaccine must’ve worked because I don’t have it — I’ve had two negative tests, I’ve not had any symptoms.”

In light of his wife’s diagnosis, Mike said two of their friends have already made plans to get vaccinated — and he hopes others will follow.

“I don’t know why this happened, but maybe it happened so other people will see it and say, ‘OK I don’t want that to happen and I’m going to do something to at least increase my probability of it not happening,'” he said.

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