IT staff member thanks Mayo care team for saving his life after near-death experience

Dave McClain sustained life-threatening injuries after falling from a 14-foot ladder in October 2023. Thanks to his care at Mayo Clinic, he is nearly back from his injuries and has returned to work as a network engineer. 

Dave McClain likes to joke that, like Harry Potter, he is the boy who lived.

This is one way he makes light of the tragic accident he experienced last year. The outlook wasn't always so positive.

On Oct. 25, 2023, Dave, a network engineer at Mayo Clinic, climbed up a 14-foot stepladder to clean leaves out of his gutters.

The next thing he remembers is being in Mayo Clinic's step-down ICU two weeks later.

His wife filled him in on what happened in the moments in between.

Dave had fallen off the ladder three steps from the top and landed on his face. He was transported by ambulance from his home in St. Charles, Minnesota, to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he landed in the ICU.

He sustained severe injuries from the fall, including a shattered jaw, fractured eye socket, brain bleed, fractured vertebrae in his back and broken ribs.

"I have been told it was touch-and-go as to whether a 61-year-old man would survive with the extent of the injuries I had," Dave says.

But Dave had some things working in his favor.

"The doctors in the ICU were excellent," Dave says. "They saved my life."

Once he was transferred to the step-down ICU, Dave started to get his bearings and began basic rehabilitation.  

"I had a good care team in the step-down ICU," Dave says. "One person I remember is (occupational therapist) Anika Hansen. She took great care of me while I was there."

In mid-November, Dave was transferred to inpatient rehab, where he focused on occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.

I just really want to thank all the staff who helped me from Oct. 25 on — thank you for saving my life and helping me get back to normal.

Dave McClain

"I was impressed with the help I got from Jacqueline Kelly in Physical Therapy," Dave says. "I plan to visit the inpatient floor at Mary Brigh soon to thank all my therapists for helping with my recovery."

The day before Thanksgiving, Dave returned home — the biggest holiday blessing he could have asked for.

He continues to attend outpatient therapy and is slowly getting better.

"My quality of life has drastically improved, and I am close to normal," Dave says. "I just really want to thank all the staff who helped me from Oct. 25 on — thank you for saving my life and helping me get back to normal."

In addition to the lifesaving care he received at Mayo Clinic, Dave says he is thankful for the coworkers who visited him in inpatient rehab and the accommodations Mayo has allowed for his return to work.

"I returned to work in the IT department in February on a restricted schedule. I have since increased my hours and expect to be back full-time this month," Dave says.

Jokes aside, Dave has a message for his friends and colleagues reading this: Stay off ladders. And never underestimate the importance of incorporating exercise into your routine.  

"I had been working out three days per week at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in the barbell class before the accident," Dave says. "I was told that my recovery was faster because of that. I would stress getting plenty of exercise."