To say doctor Scott Kaatz was shocked when he saw Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Mel Tucker pop up in his Zoom chat would be a slight understatement.
“Everybody completely schnookered me,” Dr. Kaatz said when talking about the surprise. “I had no idea. “My whole family was on and I pointed to my wife, my son, and my daughter and I said, ‘Did you guys set me up?’ They were equally surprised and I think if you’ve seen the clip you saw how genuinely surprised I was.”
It was a special moment for the 62-year-old physician and his family, but not just because they eat, sleep, and breathe the green and white. Kaatz, who is a doctor at Henry Ford hospital in metro Detroit, ended up contracting the coronavirus which left him on a ventilator for eight days clinging for his life, but he made a miraculous recovery.
“What’s remarkable, and why I’m so lucky, is that I’ve had a rapid and complete recovery from this and not everybody has that,” added Dr. Kaatz.
His father Dick Kaatz is in the latter category. On May 5 at the age of 82 he died from COVID-19, but before he passed away, Dr. Kaatz did an interview with CNN and while talking about his recovery he was able to deliver a special message to his Dad, who was in the ICU at Henry Ford.
While talking with CNN’s Erin Burnett Dr. Kaatz was elated when he said, “Dad and I are both Michigan State fans. He was wearing his Michigan State hat and joking with the nurses before he was put on the ventilator so Dad, this is for you,” as he slips on a Final Four ball cap. “Go Green! Get better! All the family is worried and praying about ya.”
That interview set the wheels into motion for Izzo and Tucker who immediately wanted to offer their support, to Kaatz and his family, to show them they’re not in this alone.
“You know one of the cool things I get to do in this job, to be honest with ya, is when you get to have an impact on somebody else’s life for what seems to be no reason you know?” Izzo said. “We must have chatted for 15 minutes, and Mel was great.”
It was 15 minutes of laughter and fun, that will be cherished for years to come, if not forever.
“It was so special because we were just early in the grieve process, and of course you know with my situation it meant so much to me personally, and my family, to have this big surprise,” said Dr. Kaatz. “I think I told coach Tucker and Izzo, ‘Boy if my Dad could see this,’ (as he tilted his head back and looked up towards the sky) or he is seeing this, that would be a big big highlight for him. It was very, very special for him.”
When Dr. Kaatz was asked to rate the surprise on a scale of one to ten his response was 73,000 because that’s what Spartan Stadium holds. His Dad is never far away, and with their love for MSU, he’s made sure to include him on this journey every step of the way. In fact, the sweatshirt you see him wearing in this video was his Dad’s favorite.