'There is hope': 86-year-old beats COVID-19 in heartwarming tale

Penny Burfitt
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·4-min read

An 86-year-old grandma who survived ‘Hitler, open heart surgery, two replacement knees and two replacement hips’ has now added COVID-19 to her remarkable recovery list.

Barbara Briley from Nottingham, UK has been called ‘one tough mum’ and proven it, after kicking coronavirus and managing to make a full recovery in her eighties.

86-year-old UK grandma Barbara Briley, pictured with her son Richard after COVID-19 recovery
Barbara Briley, pictured with her son Richard, recovered from coronavirus at 86-years-old. Photo: Supplied/ Richard Briley

Grandson Tom Briley tells Yahoo Lifestyle Barbara was admitted to hospital early in March before the outbreak began to seriously hit Britain.

He says her diagnosis left him and his family very anxious.

“We were all very concerned for her wellbeing with her being elderly,” he says. “... the hospital had put her on a DNR (do not resuscitate) so I had silently prepared for the worst outcome.”

It turns out however, that wasn’t to be the case after Barbara made a full recovery in a heartwarming twist to what was beginning to look like an all-too-familiar tale.

“I think because she has survived so many difficulties in her life... she has an inner strength and courage to face life’s hurdles head-on,” Tom says, adding the UK’s NHS is largely to thank for the miraculous outcome.

“I would just like to thank all the health workers, doctors, nurses and key workers across the UK and the world for all the hard work they have put into ensuring the health of the people we love the most,” he says.

Barbara’s recovery becomes an internet sensation

The tale has since spread beyond the delighted family to virtually every corner of the globe, after Barbara’s son, and Tom’s dad Richard took to social media with the extraordinary tale.

“Last week she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and spent a week in intensive care,” he wrote alongside a sweet snap of him and Barbara dressed up and celebrating. “Today she has been given the all-clear.”

“This is the sort of thing the media should be concentrating on,” he continued. “There is hope people.”

The photo has since been shared over half a million times on Facebook.

More than 700,000 liked the post, while almost 150,000 left comments celebrating Barbara’s good health and wishing her and the family well.

Screenshot of Facebook comments on Richard's viral post
Photo: Facebook/ Richard Briley

“Wonderful!!” one woman wrote. “So happy to read this.”

“Wow.. she's one heck of a strong lady,” another admired.

“Your mother is one tough woman, I hope you and your mum are blessed with many more years to come,” another wrote.

“Such a beautiful and inspirational story - thank you for sharing,” one said to the family. “God bless her.”

Barbara ‘unaware’ of wide-spread fame

As for the woman herself, Tom says she is blissfully unaware of all the fuss.

“She still isn’t aware of her internet fame,” he says, adding the last time Barbara surfed the web was when he helped her write her first (and last) email several Christmases ago.

“She is just very grateful for her loving family and the support of all the health workers in the hospital.”

The family hopes that Barbara’s story will help people remain positive, and get through some of the darker days of the crisis.

“It is important we focus on stories like that [of] my grandma and other people who have overcome the virus,” Tom stresses.

“[While] we all sit at home and ponder our future these little rays of sunshine are what will help us through.”

Barbara’s isn’t the first tale to help boost spirits across the world.

Last week a woman left in self-isolation with a medical condition, unsure of how to stretch her disability pension to last weeks, was left in tears after a kind stranger dropped $100 into her letterbox in a random gesture.

In the US a restaurant was floored by an exceptionally generous tip ahead of the COVID-19 shut down of food outlets – $16,000 to be exact.

Meanwhile, touching scenes of family managing to share poignant moments despite isolation orders have kept people smiling, with one sweet image of a newborn meeting his grandpa from behind a window for the first time sending many into floods of tears.

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