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Report: COVID-related illness behind paralysis of 23-year-old Florida nurse

A 23-year-old male nurse from Tampa Bay, Fla., is paralyzed from the neck down after developing an illness that was likely triggered by the coronavirus, according to a local report.

In July, Desmon Silva suddenly stopped breathing and was rushed to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor. Silva was paralyzed from the neck down and was placed on a ventilator to assist breathing. Later, he was transferred to Mass General in Boston where he could be better treated, according to a GoFundMe in his name. To date it has raised more than $166,000.

Silva was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a condition that is often “characterized by a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin – the protective covering of nerve fibers,” according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). ADEM typically occurs secondary to viral or bacterial infections, and symptoms of the ADEM typically “appear rapidly,” per the NINDS.

Two months before he developed ADEM, Silva tested positive for COVID-19 but recovered, according to local news station Bay News 9.

“It’s been difficult. You’re kind of helpless, in a way,” Silva’s father, Jose Silva, told the news station. “To see him smiling and joking actually gives us strength to keep moving forward with his recovery.”

On Monday, after months in the hospital, Silva returned home to Florida on a free flight on Jet ICU, an air ambulance service located in Tampa.

Silva has many months of recovery ahead of him, but his family says the 23-year-old “remains full of life,” per the GoFundMe.

“We focus on one day at a time, but I’d be lying to you if I told you we’re not thinking about the future,” Silva’s mother, Barbara Bonnett, told local news station WTVT.
“He’s a firm believer things are going to happen in his favor.”