A veteran of World War II who survived the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 has also recovered from the coronavirus.
William “Bill” Lapschies’ celebrated his 104th birthday on Wednesday, which came 25 days after he first showed symptoms of the flu-like coronavirus, the disease which causes COVID-19.
He was one of the first two patients to test positive for the illness at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon, about 80 miles south of Portland, local TV stations reported.
“Pretty good. I made it.” Lapschies said when asked how he felt, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Good for a few more.”
Lapschies never developed the severe respiratory symptoms associated with the disease, his doctor said.
“He has met the guidelines by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority to be considered recovered from COVID-19,” a spokesman for the VA told WGN-TV.
His recovery makes him possibly the oldest survivor of COVID-19.
“This could have easily gone another way,” Lapschies’ physician, Dr. Rob Richardson said. “There’s not a lot of interventions that can be done.”
Lapschies was put into isolation on March 5 after exhibiting his first symptoms.
Three days later several other residents began showing signs and on March 11 Lapschies’ test came back positive. One other man at the veteran’s home also tested positive but has since passed away.
Lapschies’ family gathered outside the Allworth Veteran’s Home on Wednesday for a “social distancing” celebration. Visitors were not allowed inside the facility due to state restrictions issued in March.
“We celebrated his 104 and had over 200 people. So trying to keep our social distancing and do what Gov. [Kate] Brown has asked us to do,” daughter Carolee Brown said. “But we’re so thrilled he’s recovered from this and we just had to do something for him.”
Lapschies’ son-in-law, Jim Brown, noted that besides the Spanish flu epidemic which killed more 50 million worldwide and more than a half million in the United States, his centenarian father-in-law has lived through the Great Depression and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during WWII.
“Bill’s pretty resilient,” Jim Brown said.
Lapschies has two grandchildren, six great grandchildren and five great great grandchildren.
“We were like shocked that he was kind of sitting in his wheelchair waving at us through the window and we were like, ‘He’s going make it,’” Carolee Brown said.
“We hope that this will inspire some of the other people that are going through this. And we’re really excited and looking forward to 105.”