In October 2001, Richmond, at that time a 34-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service, was working at the Brentwood Post Office in Washington, D.C., sorting mail and packages for delivery to the White House and Senate.
The Brentwood facility processed an anthrax-laced letter that was delivered to the office of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
Richmond, 56 at the time, woke up one morning that month with flu-like symptoms that worsened over the next week until he could barely breathe. A blood test confirmed inhalation anthrax, considered to be the most deadly form of anthrax.
Richmond spent 27 days at Inova Fairfax Hospital being treated for the infection. During that time, at least 22 people contracted inhalation or cutaneous anthrax and five died, including two of Richmond’s coworkers from the Brentwood post office.
His survival was later studied by scientists at the National Institutes of Health to update anthrax treatment protocol, and his blood was used to revamp the anthrax vaccine, daughter Schlona Sylvestre said.