By Jamie Leary
DENVER — A 33-year-old Berthoud fire investigator is on the road to recovery after a bacterial infection took his leg.
“Sometimes I think we forget that our job can be over in a second and that’s what happened to me ” Said Joshua MacDonald from his hospital bed at
Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center.
In March of 2016, Macdonald was called to a house fire in east Berthoud.
Berthoud firefighters pulled Cecil Ann Dunfee, 75, from her home. Macdonald was among the first to her side.
“I think about that day everyday.” Macdonald said, fighting back tears.
Cecil did not survive and Macdonald went back to her home the following day, determined to find the cause.
“I’m gonna investigate this fire to the best of my ability because I don’t want to let her down.” He said.
As Macdonald was combing the scene, the floor boards crumbled beneath him.
“Once I fell through that floor, I just thought it was a torn ACL and PCL.”
He underwent a routine surgery to repair his knee at a Denver area hospital. But not long after, his health started to decline.
Doctors determined he had contracted MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a bacterial infection that nearly claimed his life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), MSRA is most commonly spread by contaminated hands in a healthcare setting.
The latest data from the CDC shows a significant decrease in cases of MSRA state and nation-wide, but Macdonald’s case shows it can still happen.
Macdonald received a Purple Heart from the Berthoud Fire Protection District. He says while he is appreciative, he can’t help but look at it and remember Cecil Dunfee.
“That medal represents me losing my leg and a family losing their Grandma and a mother.”
The memory is still fresh and the shock of his missing left leg is a struggle. He has phantom pain and real fear.
“There’s a ton of people behind me and I don’t wanna let them down.”
His other fear is letting his fiancee down. He thinks about one thing almost regularly when it comes to Lauryn Smith: “Not being able to walk her down the aisle.”
The couple has had to delay their destination wedding to focus on Macdonald’s rehab at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center. Smith, a police officer, says MadDonald is more concerned about the wedding planning than she is. She continues to encourage her future husband to take it one day at a time.
In addition to wedding planning, the couple faces mounting medical bills. Workers’ compensation covers a lot of expenses, but not everything. They are just coming to terms with the cost of a prosthetic leg. In addition, Smith needs to remodel portions of their home to make it handicap accessible.
They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with some of the cost.
Through his ups and downs, Macdonald has become close with the family of Cecil Dunfee. The Dunfees told CBS4 that Macdonald is like family and his recovery is now their biggest concern.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.