Beating the Odds: 104-Year-Old Veteran Survives Coronavirus

COVID-19 is notoriously dangerous for people over 65. The respiratory coronavirus disease can cause extreme breathing difficulty, and is deadly in many older patients. However, one man in Oregon is believed to be the oldest person on Earth to survive the disease.

Bill Lapschies
New York Post

Bill Lapschies, who just turned 104, was diagnosed with a “moderate” case of COVID-19 on March 11. He began showing symptoms on March 5, but it took time for tests to come back to confirm his status. Lapschies, who was born in Salem in 1916, has since been cleared of the disease and is formally noted as “recovered.”

COVID Cases at Oregon Veterans’ Home

Lapschies, who lives at the Edward C Allworth Veterans’ Home, is one of sixteen people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the home. Of the rest, one is asymptomatic, seven have recovered, three are stable, two are critical and two have passed away.

Lapschies, luckily, never developed the severe breathing problems associated with some COVID-19 cases. While he had symptoms like fatigue, dry cough and fever, his case never progressed into a severe, life-threatening state. Thankfully for Bill, a veteran, he need not worry about things like Humira Medicare cost or health insurance.

“This could have easily gone another way,” said Lapschies’ doctor, Rob Richardson. “There’s not a lot of interventions that can be done.” The doctor went on to explain how nervous he was about the COVID-19 pandemic’s affect on the facility. “I thought we might have a 30 percent mortality rate here in our facility because all of our veterans have some other medical problems.”

Lapschies Survives Another Historic Event

Lapschies has survived numerous brushes with death from across American history. In the 1920s, as a small child, he survived the Spanish flu pandemic. Ironically, that was the most recent massive viral outbreak to impact the world on a global scale.

Then, in the 1940s, Lapschies served in the military during World War II. As a veteran of a war that ended almost seventy years ago, Lapschies is one of very few people to have encountered both the Second World War and the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 1, Lapschies celebrated his 104th birthday with his family. By that point, he had already beaten COVID-19, and was happy to enjoy his day outside. Everyone made sure to stay spread out, at least six feet apart, to observe social distancing. When his family asked how he beat it, he was in good spirits. “I don’t know,” Bill told them. “It just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything.”