Tooele man hospitalized for months after contracting COVID-19
PROVO, Utah – A local resident struggled for his life after contracting COVID-19 in August.
According to his family, 33-year-old Larry Barney and five of his family members learned they had the coronavirus on August 10-11. Larry’s mother was hospitalized with severe symptoms, as was Larry, but the other four managed to fight off the virus in a matter of weeks.
READ: Utah sees record spike in COVID-19 tests after Thanksgiving
“I was just lucky, but I wish I were in his place instead of him,” said Larry’s mother, Louise Wiedmer. “I would swap it every day.”
Larry spent more than 90 days in intensive care and was recently moved from Timpanogos Regional Hospital to Utah Valley Specialty Hospital.
“They told us a couple of times he wouldn’t make it through the night,” said Alan Wiedmer, Larry’s stepfather. “Half of his lungs are pretty damaged or gone, nonexistent, so he’s done really well getting to where he’s almost off the ventilator now.”
Larry was initially taken in with extremely low oxygen levels. He took numerous intensive medications, had operations, including a tracheostomy, and relied on a ventilator to keep breathing.
“He really is a miracle,” said Larry’s wife Chelsey Barney. “[Doctors] initially gave him a 5 percent chance of living. “
Larry and his family were unvaccinated when they contracted COVID-19. Some have had their vaccine since the ordeal.
“Don’t think that [COVID-19 is] made it up because it wasn’t made up, ”said Alan. “Nothing was invented about it – we all felt it, lived and still live it, months and months later.”
WATCH: Panel of Experts from Utah Addresses COVID-19 Misinformation Crisis
When asked what they miss most about Larry, most of the family members mentioned his voice and laugh. Larry’s aunt shared a post on Facebook Monday night saying she heard him say “I love you” as she hugged him in his hospital room.
“He got to sit on the edge of the bed for the first time in three months last Saturday, so it was a big moment for him and us – very emotional,” said Chelsey. “I hadn’t seen the back of his head in three months and that made me cry just to see the back of his head.”
Starting Monday, Larry worked on getting off the ventilator and using a medical device (tee) to assist with oxygen and pressure.
“It has definitely changed our lives forever. Things will never be the same again, ”said Chelsey.
“It changed all of our lives, especially Larry’s. There is no doubt that this will affect him forever – one way or another, it will affect him forever, ”Alan repeated.
A community event is planned for December 2nd at Moose Lodge in Tooele. Meal is served, proceeds will go to the Barney family to help cover financial burdens while Larry recovers.