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


POQUOSON, Va. (WAVY) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, thousands of Americans have had to process grief and loss.

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

Many families worldwide are dealing with losing loved ones from the virus, and are looking for better days. 79-year-old Poquoson resident Erbin Lender beat COVID-19, but lost his friend as well.

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

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

“They had been to a funeral the week before we got there, and they had contacted COVID, they did not know it at the time when 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, who is in charge 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, and then he was put back on regular oxygen.

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

Although things were looking up for him, Prime explained to Lender that the ventilator was his only hope of staying alive.

But Lender elected not to go on the machine.

Lender says the hospital staff tried different ways of treating COVID-19 for patients. Some of the methods of treatment worked for him, some did not.

“He did require what we call an ‘Airvo’ that is a oxygen delivery system,” Prime said.

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

“Mr. Lender was able come down off his oxygen requirements and ultimately improve and go home, which was a miracle,” Prime said.

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

MKinney died from kidney failure on Sept. 20.

Lender is a survivor, but it still heartbroken over the loss of his friend.

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

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

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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