PROVO, Utah — A local man is fighting for his life after contracting COVID-19 in August.
According to members of his family, 33-year-old Larry Barney, along with five of his relatives, learned they had the coronavirus on August 10 and 11. Larry’s mother was hospitalized with severe symptoms and so was Larry, but the other four were able to ward off the virus in a matter of weeks.
“I was just lucky, but I wish I was in his place instead of him,” said Larry’s mom Louise Wiedmer. “I’d like to swap places with him every day.”
Larry spent more than 90 days in intensive care and was recently transferred from Timpanogos Regional Hospital to Utah Valley Specialty Hospital.
“There were a few times they told us he wouldn’t make it through the night,” said Alan Wiedmer, Larry’s stepfather. “Half of his lungs are pretty much damaged or gone, non-existent, so he’s done a really good job of getting to where he’s almost off that ventilator.”
Larry was initially admitted with extremely low oxygen levels. He has taken numerous intensive medications, had surgeries including a tracheostomy, and relied on a ventilator to help him breathe.
“He really is a miracle,” said Larry’s wife Chelsey Barney. “[Doctors] gave him a 5 percent chance to live in the beginning.”
Larry and his family were not vaccinated when they contracted COVID-19. Since the ordeal, some have received their vaccine.
“Don’t think that [COVID-19 is] made up, because it’s not made up,’ said Alan. “There’s nothing made up about it — we’ve all felt it, lived it, and still do, months and months later.”
When asked what they miss most about Larry, most family members mentioned his voice and his smile. 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 his bed for the first time in three months last Saturday, so that was a huge moment for us and him – 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.”
As of Monday, Larry was off the ventilator and using a medical device (Tee) to help with oxygen and pressure.
“It has definitely changed our lives, forever. Things will never be the same,” Chelsey said.
“It’s changed our lives, especially Larry’s. There is no doubt that this will affect him forever—somehow it will affect him forever,” Alan repeated.
A community event is planned for December 2 in the Moose Lodge in Tooele. A meal is served with proceeds going to the Barney family to help with the financial burden while Larry recovers.