It's not often a Bethpage couple find their way onto the nation's most watched TV newscast, but Dave and Janine Kachadourian unexpectedly did Thursday night.
A producer with ABC's "World News Tonight With David Muir" called the Kachadourians late Thursday about an unusual — and inspirational — social media video both had been in. Within hours, they were stars of the program's popular end piece, with nearly 9.5 million viewers as witnesses.
The Kachadourians' story has been common to many Long Islanders these past eight months, the outcome a happy one. After a two-month stay at Roslyn's St. Francis Hospital, where Dave Kachadourian was undergoing treatment for COVID-19, Janine was finally allowed to see him in late May. Their reunion was recorded on her cellphone by one of the nurses.
The video was later uploaded by their daughter, Jenna, to the popular Facebook page Humankind, a USA Today creation devoted to "uplifting stories about kindness, triumphs and special relationships," per the site. Katie Couric came across it yesterday, then tagged it on her Instagram account. Next, ABC News came calling.
Janine Kachadourian, assistant to the principal at Old Bethpage Elementary School -- and also a freelance writer -- said in an interview Friday that she had contracted COVID in early March.
"I got COVID. and we now think my son [Christian, a freshman at Syracuse University] may have picked it up first," she said. "He was a senior at Bethpage High and had a terrible cough for about two weeks [and] he missed about a week of school. I had wanted him to be tested but the doctor said he didn't meet the criteria [for testing] and then I began to not feel well."
Next her husband got sick.
"It immediately went to both his lungs [and] we went to St. Joe's [in Bethpage], but it was so overwhelming that they sent him home with some antibiotics," Janine said.
While she recovered, Dave instead got "sicker and sicker, then he just collapsed on the floor," she said. "I didn't want to call an ambulance because they'd take him back to St. Joe's and asked 'can you make it to St. Francis,' which is about 25 minutes from our house. I put him in the car and it was truly the most fraught ride of my life."
The next two months were more perilous: one of Dave's lungs collapsed and he suffered permanent scarring on both lungs.
Jenna, now a junior at SUNY/Oneonta, wanted to post the video because she thought it might generate some interest.
Indeed, it did.
The Kachadourians, who are both 51, also have a daughter, Lauren, an 8th grader at JFK Middle School in Bethpage. Dave, who runs his own printing company, is now back to work.
"He can't do any of the physical work he used to do," she said. "[COVID] doesn't leave you as it found you, particularly in severe cases. He's a super-active guy and super-handy, and the strongest guy I know. He's determined and he's getting better [but] we don't know if his lungs will ever heal [and] there are still a lot of breathing issues. But he's come a long, long way."
How does her husband feel about the sudden and unexpected attention?
"It's mortifying for him, but it's so uplifting."