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DENVER (KDVR) — Included on the list for the next phase of vaccines are candidates awaiting organ transplants. Among them is an Aurora man who was one of the first people in Colorado to be stricken with COVID-19.

From kidney disease to a near-death experience battling COVID, Michael Peoples shares his remarkable story of survival.

The day was March 12, 2020. Peoples was one of the first Coloradans with a positive COVID diagnosis. After being in the ICU at UCHealth for one month, he was put on a ventilator.  

“’Cause I could still hear it. They said, ‘He’s not responsive.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God.’  And I started praying, every prayer that I’ve ever known in my entire life. And believe me, prayer works,” Peoples said.

Only complicating his fight: a chronic hereditary condition he battles called polycystic kidney disease. 

“I’ve been on dialysis for 21 years, and I’ve had 21-plus surgeries because of that,” Peoples said.

He stunned his care team by making a quick turn.

“They actually saved my life,” Peoples said.

What Peoples, a singer, didn’t prepare for? Coming off the ventilator without a voice. 

Doctors at UCHealth say it’s not uncommon for the tube to cause irritation to the vocal chords.

“I was devastated by that, and I was determined as a fighter to continue to sing, and I’m going to continue to sing until I take my last breath on Earth,” Peoples said.

Peoples is eager to receive a life-saving kidney donation any day now. 

“I’m a cook as well, and that would be one of the best-fed kidneys on the planet,” Peoples said.

But for now, he waits — with newfound gratitude.  Grateful to have his voice, the love of his life by his side, and grateful to be included in the next phase of vaccines. 

“It’s very important for me to get this vaccine as soon as possible,” Peoples said.

And — he’s grateful to be alive.

If you are interested in donating a kidney to Peoples or those on the UCHealth transplant list, they ask you to visit their website for more information on finding a match.