(NY DAILY NEWS) – He lived through two world wars and the 1918 flu pandemic and later survived a stroke, a serious fall and pneumonia.
But this Missouri grandpa is not done beating the odds.
Rudolph “Rudi” Heider officially recovered from COVID-19 on his 107th birthday this week and may be the oldest American to survive the deadly virus, his family told the Daily News.
The retired chemist and college professor, who was born in Massachusetts in 1913, was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this month after contracting it from an employee at a nursing home in Chesterfield, according to his family.
“He thought he was going to die,” said Janet Heider, who’s married to his only grandson, Matthew.
Grandpa Rudy, as his relatives call him, was feeling weak, had difficulty breathing and was fighting a fever for about two weeks. In an emotional phone call last Friday, he told his family he had lived a full life and was ready for what was to come.
Janet Heider asked friends and family members to pray so he wouldn’t spend his last moments alone, as many dying COVID-19 patients have done, she told The News.
But Rudi Heider’s symptoms began to ease just days later and on Thursday, which happened to be his birthday, he was finally allowed to come out of isolation.
“Matt and I are truly, truly grateful,” said Janet Heider, who lives with her husband in Washington state.
She called the legendary grandpa a “pretty tough” fighter and said his strength and positive attitude likely contributed to his quick recovery.
Although he appears to be the oldest American to recover from coronavirus, a woman in the Netherlands who’s just as old also beat the deadly illness about three weeks ago. Cornelia Ras, one of dozens of churchgoers who tested positive for COVID-19 in Goeree-Overflakkee, has reportedly recovered despite not taking any medicine.
Another centennial to recover from the coronavirus in the U.S. is Oregon resident Will Lapschies, a 104-year-old World War II veteran.
Officials with the Village Care Center, where Rudi Heider has lived for about 15 years, said the centennial is getting stronger every day and can’t wait to see his family again.
In a brief conversation through a window at the nursing home, he told a local news reporter he was excited to be back in his room after days in isolation.