Well-known Houston LGBTQ+ advocate fighting COVID in the ICU

Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Houston LGBTQ+ advocate fighting COVID in the ICU
John Buchanan, a well-known figure in Houston's LGBTQ+ community, is fighting COVID in the ICU despite being fully vaccinated.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A well-known Houston LGBTQ+ advocate is fighting for his life after testing positive for COVID-19.

John Buchanan is fully vaccinated, but said he recently contracted the delta variant.

His best friend, Natalie Henshilwood, has been visiting Buchanan in the hospital.

"He is effortlessly kind to people, and he cares about everybody," said Henshilwood.

Buchanan, who is 57 years old, does it all.

He's well-known in the pageant circuit. He works for an airline, drives for Uber, works as a realtor and is an incredible husband to his partner, Osmar, and an incredible friend to many.

"I've been very blessed to have him as a friend," said Henshilwood.

In late July, Buchanan returned from a trip to Kentucky.

"He got back on Saturday, July 25. So shortly after that flight, he felt bad and he developed a fever," said Henshilwood. "He tested positive for COVID on July 30. He was admitted to the hospital on August 4 with the delta variant."

She said Buchanan got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but adds that he has underlying conditions, including high blood pressure.

"He was pre-diabetic and he was on medications for both," said Henshilwood.

Buchanan is now in the ICU. He's intubated and on dialysis. Since his hospitalization, hundreds have reached out to ask about his health.

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He said he was diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia. Doctors told him they couldn't let him go home because "there's no oxygen" to release him.

It prompted Henshilwood to create a prayer page on Facebook.

"I started it late one night and when I woke up the next morning, there was like 7,000 hits on it," she said.

The visitors keep coming to the page.

When Henshilwood visits her beloved friend in the hospital, she reads him the many prayers people have posted on the page and plays video messages people leave.

"I made it for [Buchanan] for a purpose, but I think the purpose is bigger than [Buchanan] now," she said. "I think the purpose of the page, while we're praying for [Buchanan], it's an outlet for people that don't have support."

Henshilwood hopes Buchanan's story encourages others to get vaccinated.

While he had the vaccine, more than 90% of hospitalized patients are not vaccinated.

Buchanan's husband contracted the virus, too, but did not end up in the hospital. He had a mild case.

With all the support, Henshilwood also created a GoFundMe to give back to others in honor of her friend, a man who has touched so many lives.

"I'm just honored to be his friend," said Henshilwood.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Marla Carter on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.