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Who shot Nick? A medical mystery solved at Mayo Clinic

When a neighbor found an Iowa farmer lying in a field with what looked like a bullet hole in his back, he called 911 and triggered a series of events that solved a mystery and saved a life.

Nick Leibold in farm field
Nick Leibold stands in a field of corn on his farm in Iowa.
Contributed / Nick and Kendra Leibold
We are part of The Trust Project.

ROCHESTER — Have you ever experienced an event that made you think that there was definitely someone from somewhere else looking after you — watching over you in a time of great need?

That's what Nick and Kendra Leibold believe happened when, by chance, a neighbor found Nick Leibold lying motionless next to a tractor in a farm field.

"When our neighbor found him, it looked like Nick had been shot," Kendra said. "Outwardly, he didn't seem to have any injuries. It just looked like a small hole on the back of his shirt where some blood was coming through. That's all you could see."

Moments after they got the 911 call, a team of first responders arrived on the scene. Soon afterwards, Nick was in an ambulance en route to a local hospital, where experts requested help from Mayo Clinic because the rural hospital did not have everything needed to save Nick.

Nick and Kendra say innovations on board the emergency helicopter Mayo One, were one of the reasons Nick is alive today. But they also say there are many people and things that helped solve the mystery of what happened to Nick and kept him alive. That includes a mysterious stranger who arrived on the scene to help, never to be seen or heard from again.


Each Mayo One helicopter—and there are now four of them—carries a ventilator, IV fluids, 70 medications, various blood products, a handheld blood analysis lab, and, sometimes, an isolette for preemies.

Was Nick shot on his tractor? What really happened? What was on board Mayo One that kept Nick alive until a trauma surgery team could operate? And who was the kind stranger?

Listen to the podcast to find out.

To see pictures of Nick and Kendra Leibold, their farm, Mayo One and other images, click the link to the gallery below.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Do you overindulge on Thanksgiving? A lot of people do. It can be hard to resist recipes you only get during the holidays. But if you chow down on foods and drinks that are high in salt, fat or caffeine, you may be at risk of "holiday heart." Viv Williams has details from Mayo Clinic cardiologists in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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