Navy Vet, 93, Died of COVID-19 Refused Ventilator, Family Says It Might Be to Save Somebody

A Navy veteran and retired educator became the first person to die from the CCP virus in the state of North Dakota. The 93-year-old declined the use of a ventilator; his niece has since speculated that in his last moments, her beloved uncle may have been hoping that the hospital’s resources could be used to save somebody else who might need it.

North Dakota’s first coronavirus victim was a Navy veteran. He declined a ventilator in hopes it would save someone else, family says

Опубликовано WDAZ News Суббота, 28 марта 2020 г.

Roger Lehne passed away on his 93rd birthday, March 26, 2020, at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota. As per the Grand Forks Herald, a daily newspaper, Lehne lost his battle owing to complications arising from contracting the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, which has the potential to cause acute respiratory distress in elderly or immunocompromised patients.

Lehne’s niece, Julie LaVoy, said that her uncle had refused to be put on a ventilator. She reflected, “He showed us all how to live and he absolutely showed us dignity at death, too.”

“A (do-not-resuscitate order) was prepared,” she added, as per The Associated Press. “He was not afraid to die.”

LaVoy said that her uncle may have refused the ventilator even without the order in hopes someone else could use it. “That absolutely would have been his character,” LaVoy said.

Nurses process a sample for COVID-19 at a drive-up clinic set up by the University of Washington Medical Center’s Northwest Outpatient Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, on March 17, 2020 (©Getty Images | Karen Ducey)

LaVoy revealed that while her uncle had been well looked after by his medical team, Lehne’s family was not able to be with him when he died. LaVoy even had to break the news of her uncle’s passing to his wife of over 60 years, 84-year-old Teresa Lehne, via Facetime.

“You hear about coronavirus out there, and you feel bad for everybody,” LaVoy told the Grand Forks Herald. “But I had not even considered how families were going to be separated and left alone, not being able to be with their loved ones at the end of life. It’s heartbreaking.”

Photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing a microscopic view of the novel coronavirus from the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia (©Getty Images | CDC)

LaVoy mentioned her uncle had nonetheless left a moving message for his wife expressing how much he loved her and would miss her. According to Grand Folk Herald, Teresa was hospitalized at a Sanford Health facility with a fever, having also tested positive for the CCP virus.

Associated Press reported on March 28 that doctors described her condition as critical.

Lehne was born on March 26, 1927, and grew up in Audubon, Minnesota. He served as a Navy medic after enrolling at the age of 17 and later became a teacher after retiring from the Navy in 1954.

Lehne then married a fellow teacher, Teresa, in 1958. LaVoy described her uncle as “a jokester,” but also, “very firm.”

“He always had a toothpick hanging out of his mouth,” she recalled. “He was world-famous for his toothpick.”

Illustration – Shutterstock | Stockagogo Photos

As per the Associated Press, the North Dakota State Health Department, when reporting Lehne’s death, claimed that the 93-year-old had underlying health conditions and had acquired the virus through community spread. However, according to Grand Forks Herald, Lehne’s niece claimed that besides his advanced age, her uncle was “in fabulous health,” adding, “He was healthy as can be.”

A cleaning crew wearing personal protective clothing takes disinfecting equipment into the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, on March 12, 2020 (©Getty Images | John Moore)

Despite the devastating loss to the beloved Navy veteran’s family, LaVoy maintained that due gratitude was owed to the tireless medical staff who supported her uncle through his final battle. “They are going above and beyond,” she said. “We need to thank them so much.”

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Author: Louise Bevan

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