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Community helps fund medical flight for Largo nurse paralyzed from COVID-19 complications

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay community, and people from all over the country, have stepped up to help a local nurse who got sick after being on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

8 On Your Side was the first to tell you about 22-year-old Desmond Silva last week. The Largo nurse had been fighting for his life at Mease Countryside Hospital. His family said he was on a ventilator after becoming paralyzed from the neck down due to complications from the coronavirus and the flu. 

Silva’s family told WFLA.com last Friday the Massachusetts native needed to be transported by medical evacuation to Boston to receive further treatment. But the flight would cost a whopping $40,000.  

Silva’s mother, Barbra Bonnet, says after Silva’s story aired – in a matter of hours – his GoFundMe page received thousands of dollars worth of donations. 

“We’re so humbled, especially with today’s economy with COVID, people losing their jobs and unemployed but still finding a way of donating,” said Bonnet. “Whether it’s monetary or even praying. Desmon’s GoFundMe is flooded with people from all over the United States just giving him support.”

According to Bonnet, they received enough funds to transport Silva to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he is now. 

“It came together through JET ICU and medical team. It kind of happened really fast. We got the green light from Mass General,” said Bonnet. “Before you know it, my son was out of Florida within hours.” 

Bonnet tells WFLA.com a team of specialists is now working to officially diagnose her son.  

“He’s just being seen by a lot of specialists. He has a neuro team of about two or three neurologist specialists,” she said. “He has two nurse practitioners, physical therapists on board. So speech therapy, occupational therapy along with the neuroimmunologist as well.”

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