Poquoson man survives COVID-19, but is heartbroken after losing friend to virus


POQUOSON, Virginia (WAVY) – As the coronavirus pandemic continues, thousands of Americans have faced grief and loss.

A man from Poquoson survived covid-19, only to lose a close family friend to the virus.

Many families around the world are facing the loss of loved ones to the virus and are looking for better days. Erbin Lender, 79, a resident of Poquoson, has beaten COVID-19, but has also lost his friend.

“He passed away and I survived,” Lender said of his friend, Al McKinney.

In September, Lender and his wife Jane traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana to visit the Mckinneys, who are friends of the family.

“They had attended a funeral the week before we arrived, and they had contacted COVID, they didn’t know by the time we arrived,” Lender said.

Lender was a patient at Willis-Knighton Pierremont in Shreveport, just 15 miles from Willis-Knighton Medical Center North for eleven days. He was taken care of by Dr Jennifer Prime, head of the COVID-19 unit.

“We treated him with everything we have medically available for COVID-19,” Prime said.

Lender was on specialized oxygen for seven days, then returned to regular oxygen.

“The doctor told me it looked like I had come through the hardest part. My lungs were responding, recovering, ”Lender said.

Although things are improving for him, Prime explained to Lender that the fan is his only hope to stay alive.

But the lender chose not to go on the machine.

The lender says hospital staff have tried different ways of treating COVID-19 for patients. Some of the treatment methods worked for him, some didn’t.

“He needed what we call an ‘Airvo’ which is an oxygen delivery system,” Prime said.

In Lender’s case, the heating of oxygen saved his life.

“Sir. The lender was able to reduce his oxygen requirements and eventually improve and go home, which was a miracle,” Prime said.

However, McKinney, Lender’s friend who contracted COVID-19 at the funeral before Lender’s visit, was also hospitalized at Willis-Knighton North while Lender was in the other hospital.

MKinney died of kidney failure on September 20.

Lender is a survivor, but his heart is still broken over the loss of his friend.

“It was a sad circumstance. He’s your friend you’ve known all these years, ”Lender said.

Still, Lender is grateful to the hospital staff for saving his life.

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