104-Year-Old WWII Vet Recovers From Coronavirus in Time to Celebrate His Birthday

A centenarian who served in World War II has recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, just in time to celebrate his 104th birthday this week.

William "Bill" Lapschies of Oregon was one of 15 residents at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home to test positive for coronavirus in early March, according to a report by Portland's KATU 2 television station. Two other residents at the veterans' home have died after being infected.

"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 the station.

Asked about how he is feeling at 104 after just recovering from COVID-19, Lapschies responded: "Pretty good. I made it."

Oregon veteran
This screenshot from a report by Portland's KATU 2 television station shows WWII veteran William Lapschies celebrating his 104th birthday after recovering from coronavirus KATU 2/screenshot

Carolee Brown, Lapschies daughter, said the family was so grateful for her father's recovery.

"We're so thrilled he's recovered from this and we just had to do something for him," she said, according to a report published by Chicago's WGN 9.

Brown pointed out that the family had held a party with 200 guests when Lapschies had turned 100, but noted this wasn't feasible now with the stringent social distancing guidelines in place. Family members instead surprised him on Wednesday by standing outside the veterans' home with balloons and signs.

"It seemed like he just made this wonderful recovery," Brown explained. "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!'"

Although elderly people face a greater risk of serious complications and death from COVID-19, there have been a number of reports of centenarians surviving the infection over the past month.

In mid-March, Iranian media reported that a 103-year-old woman had recovered after being hospitalized in the central city of Semnan. The unidentified woman was "discharged after making a complete recovery," Navid Danayi, head of the Semnan University of Medical Sciences, said at the time.

Earlier in March, China's Xinhua News Agency reported that a man who had just turned 100 in February had survived COVID-19. He had been treated for about two weeks in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the global pandemic.

Globally, there are now more than 965,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Of those, more than 203,000 have already recovered while nearly 50,000 have died. Within the U.S., over 217,000 cases have been confirmed, while more than 5,100 have died and just over 8,700 have recovered.