A veteran from WWII has celebrated recovering from coronavirus and his 104th birthday, making him possibly the oldest person to recover from the deadly virus.
William Lapschies was hiding a smile behind a surgical face mask when local media visited his assisted living facility in Portland, Oregon to help celebrate his milestone birthday and he told reporters, who stood 1.8 metres away from him, he felt “pretty good” on his special day.
The 104-year-old was one of 16 people at the Edward C. Allworth Oregon Veterans’ Home to be diagnosed with coronavirus and his family feared he wouldn’t be around to celebrate his upcoming birthday.
The facility’s physician Dr Rob Richardson told OPB he estimated it may lose 30 percent of their residents aged 75-years and over, if their current health conditions were impacted by COVID-19.
“All of our veterans have some other medical problems or they wouldn’t be here,” Dr Richardson said.
Mr Lapschies’s family told KATU2 his condition worsened about eight days after testing positive for coronavirus in early March but as doctors tried several treatments including using hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, he started to show signs of improvement.
Now they hope that Mr Lapschies’ positive attitude can inspire others during the coronavirus outbreak.
"We're hoping this goes out to all the people out there who are sick and have this problem, if Bill can survive this at 104, anybody can. Step up, you can do it," his son-in-law, Jim Brown, told outlet KATU2.
“He’s an amazing man, to come through all this and be 104, he’s so inspirational, he should be an inspiration to the world,” Mr Lapschies’ granddaughter, Jamie Yutzie, told local media OPB.
Two residents at the veterans home diagnosed with the virus have sadly died and Dr Richardson said the 104-year-old was lucky to have only developed a moderate case of coronavirus without respiratory issues.
“This could have easily gone another way, there’s not a lot of interventions that can be done,” Dr Richardson said.
When media asked Mr Lapschies how he overcame the virus he smiled and shrugged.
“I don’t know, It just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything,” he said with a laugh.
Dr Richardson said he was determined to make sure the WWII veteran survived to see his 104th birthday.
“This is somebody who was born in 1916, so he lived through and survived the Spanish flu of 1918 and I was going to try very hard to not let him use the battle to COVID-19 of 2020,” he said.
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