Second World War veteran beats Covid-19 to celebrate 104th birthday

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Major Wooten
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By Jay Reeves, Associated Press

A man from Alabama in the US, who spent the Second World War repairing bomb-damaged trains in France, recovered from Covid-19 in time to mark his 104th birthday.

Major Wooten was physically drained and a little fuzzy mentally after contracting coronavirus, but appears to be on the mend, said his granddaughter Holley Wooten McDonald.

“I’m just thankful that they were able to treat him so quickly and we were able to get him tested,” said Ms McDonald, adding: “It’s amazing that a 104-year-old survived Covid.”

Madison Hospital shared video of Mr Wooten wearing a face mask and waving while workers sang “Happy birthday dear Pop Pop” as he was discharged in a wheelchair decorated with balloons on Tuesday, two days before his birthday on Thursday.

Ms McDonald said her grandfather, who served as a private first class in the army before going on to a post-war career with US Steel, tested positive for Covid-19 on November 23 after her mother, his daughter, got the illness.

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He received an infusion of the newly approved monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab, but was physically drained the next day and had to be taken to the hospital, she said.

“I don’t know if that medicine just started working, but within 24 hours he was better,” she said. Mr Wooten’s blood oxygen levels are good now and his lungs are “clear as a bell”, Ms McDonald said.

She said her mother recovered from Covid-19, and so did a sister who developed the illness and had to spend a week on a ventilator.

The brush with Covid-19 was Mr Wooten’s second major health scare this year.

In the spring he was taken to hospital with serious heart problems, Ms McDonald said.

Mr Wooten, a big University of Alabama football fan, received a video phone call from Alabama coach Nick Saban after that scare got attention on the local news, she said.

“He was on cloud nine after that,” she said.

For Mr Wooten’s birthday, a company erected a garden display that included the Alabama athletics logo, a cake, candles and a patriotic hat.

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