Dec. 31, 1961 – July 2, 2014
Michael “Mick” Waclawski, of Buffalo, the first quadriplegic patient on a ventilator allowed to go home from Erie County Medical Center, died Wednesday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 52.
Mr. Waclawski was paralyzed from the neck down after he hit a snow fence stake Feb. 16, 1980, while tobogganing with friends in Delaware Park. He was a patient at ECMC for two years.
At the time of the accident, he was regarded as the sparkplug of the senior class at McKinley High School and was captain of the swimming team. He had a passionate interest in first aid and had enlisted in the Air Force, planning to become a paramedic.
Fortunately, he taught mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to his best friend, the class president, Dave Wright. Wright kept him alive after the accident until medics arrived.
Later, despite being virtually blind and in a wheelchair, he attended classes at the University at Buffalo to become a counselor for people with disabilities, but stopped after Medicaid funding rules limited his round-the-clock nurses to providing only home care and a state appeals court ruled that the nurses could not accompany him to school.
A Riverside resident, he held the highest class license in amateur radio, Extra Class, and broadcast with the call letters KB2MSW.
He was a longtime member of the South Towns Amateur Radio Society.
Survivors include his mother, Elsie; a brother, Gary; and a sister, Donna Wendzikowski.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, 565 East Park Drive, Town of Tonawanda.