He had been in a coma for five weeks. He was determined to get the best out of life. Top of his bucket list was getting close to elephants and lions in the wild.
The Dublin wildlife photographer ended up embarking on an unforgettable expedition to Kenya.
He now intends to publish a major book of stunningly beautiful images of wild animals that have earned him international awards, including one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world – the Windland Smith Rice Award.
“It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience to look into the eyes of a bull elephant and to see him looking back at me,” said the Dubliner.
“It felt like there was a connection between the two of us for a moment,” he said.
He is seeking sponsorship and funding to self-publish the coffee-table book which features many dramatic photographs of the animals that roam the plains of the vast Maasai Mara.
He has undertaken a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary €12,500 but he must raise the funds by the deadline of March 1.
Michael (64), from Aylesbury, Tallaght, has worked as a weddings and portrait photographer for years but he retired from that high pressure business when he suffered a near-fatal heart attack while working at a wedding in 2014.
The father-of-two, who has three grandchildren, feels fortunate he collapsed while standing beside a nurse in a Drogheda hotel foyer who immediately began CPR. She was assisted by a doctor who was dining at the hotel and they saved his life.
He “died” two more times in the crucial period in the weeks that followed when he was undergoing intensive treatment that saved his life.
The treatment included being in a medically induced coma for five weeks, he said.
“I feel very lucky and very grateful to be alive,” said Michael, saying his life-and-death crisis also made him adopt a healthier lifestyle.
He spent nine days in Kenya in 2015 with a guide who ensured he got close to some of the most magnificent animals he had ever seen.
He had won many awards in the past for his photographs of Irish wildlife, including the overall prize for best image from the Irish Professional Photographers’ Association.
His African photographs won a series of international awards, including the prestigious award in a competition run by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
The book will be named From Sunrise to Sunset. To help Michael make the book a reality, the public are invited to consider funding the project by visiting the Kickstarter website http://kck.st/2i29Rqg.
The tagline for the book declares ‘A photographic safari in the Maasai Mara – from death’s door to heaven on earth.’