‘This is me with my mum. She has survived Hitler, open-heart surgery, two replacement knees and two replacement hips.  Few weeks ago she fell, fractured her hip, two ribs and her spine. Last week she was diagnosed with Covid 19 and spent a week in intensive care. She is 86. Today she has been given the all clear. This is the sort of thing the media should be concentrating on. There is hope, people!’ 

This was Richard Briley’s post on social media, together with a photograph of his mother, Barbara Briley, standing smiling next to him.   Her son shared her story to remind people that a coronavirus diagnosis is not a death sentence for the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.

In Italy, 104-year-old Ada Zanusso became the oldest person to survive the Coronavirus. Euronews said that Doctors hailed her recovery as a sign of “great joy and a sign of good hope.” Ada fell ill at her nursing home at Biella in northern Italy on March 17.  On 6th April Ada’s doctor, Carla Furno Marchese told the press that she was up and about and not lying in bed and she could walk to her chair.  ‘She has lost none of her lucidity and intelligence. Her recovery is a great joy for us and a sign of good hope for all that are suffering in these difficult days.” [i]

Another Italian grandmother, 95-year-old Alma Clara Corsini also made a full recovery from the virus.  She was taken into hospital on 5th March, showing signs of the illness, but returned to her home in Fanano, Modena two weeks later after making a remarkable recovery.  She told Gazzetta Di Modena from her hospital bed: “Yes, yes, I’m fine. They were good people who looked after me well.” The Italian newspaper said Ms Corsini had been the “pride of staff” during her treatment at a hospital in Pavullo.[ii]

In the USA, the family of 104-year-old William “Bill” Lapschies were celebrating his birthday with a “social distancing” birthday party outside his care home in Oregon. Bill had survived the Spanish Flu; the Great Depression and World War II has now recovered from the coronavirus. He started showing symptoms on March 5 and been isolated in his room, but by April 3rd he was considered recovered from COVID-19.  His daughter, Carolee Brown said it wasn’t exactly how they had planned to celebrate his birthday.  When they celebrated his 101st birthday party there had been over 200 people.   But she said, “We’re so thrilled he’s recovered from this and we just had to do something for him.”[iii]

Each case has been a great joy to medical staff on the frontline of the battle with the coronavirus.  They need hope as much as the rest of us.  We are bombarded daily with bad news and statistics in the media, but, as Richard Briley said – There is hope, people!

[i] https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/04/06/at-104-years-old-an-italian-super-gran-survives-the-spanish-flu-and-the-coronavirus/

[ii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08845bb

[iii] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bill-lapschies-oregon-veteran-coronavirus-recover-104-years-birthday/


Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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