It was the best birthday gift a 104-year-old could ask for: recovery from the coronavirus.
When William “Bill” Lapschies of Portland, Oregon, was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, his family feared the World War II vet might not live to reach the milestone birthday.
Lapschies, who lives in an assisted living facility, was one of 16 people there to come down with the illness caused by the coronavirus last month, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Two of the residents have died, but Lapschies managed to survive the illness in part because his doctors treated him with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
On Wednesday, he turned the big 1-0-4 and was deemed recovered enough that his family and friends were able to celebrate with him ― observing proper social distancing, of course.
Staff wheeled Lapschies out onto a small patio surrounded by balloons.
Under the circumstances, he was happy to celebrate the big day.
“Pretty good. I made it,” Lapschies told local station KOIN TV before adding that he was “good for a few more.”
Lapschies’ daughter Carolee Brown is happy with the turn of events.
“It seemed like he just made this wonderful recovery,” Brown told the station. “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 gonna make it!’”
Lapschies’ family members believe he may be the oldest person to survive the illness and want his recovery to bring hope to others in an uncertain time.
“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,” Lapschies’ son-in-law Jim Brown told local station KATU TV.