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Nurse paralyzed by COVID-related infection returns home to continue recovery

Desmon Silva was taken to Boston for treatment after having a rare disease following his battle with COVID-19.
Credit: Silva Family
Desmon Silva contracted the coronavirus in July 2020. The Largo Medical Center nurse has a rare disease that left him paralyzed.

TAMPA, Fla. — By now, almost everyone knows someone who has contracted the coronavirus, and while most recover, there are some whose lives are changed forever. 

One of them is Desmon Silva. The Largo Medical Center nurse was paralyzed after he contracted COVID-19 last summer and was flown to Boston for care. At the time, Florida was experiencing some of the highest positivity rates.

Now, the 23-year-old is back in the Tampa Bay area thanks to some generous donations, including a $25,000 flight home.

Silva has acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, a disease that attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. He says he's grateful for all the support and generosity. 

“I’ve received anonymous donations and support and prayers daily so it’s very humbling, and I could thank them enough,” Silva said in a video message the family shared.

Silva’s father and stepmother told reporters on the tarmac at Tampa International that they are encouraged by his positive outlook.

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

“He keeps a positive mindset through all of this,” Lynette Silva added.

Silva still has to use a ventilator, and his family will be looking for a wheelchair van to take him to appointments. He hopes to eventually return to nursing.

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