TAMPA, Fla. –  A Largo Medical Center nurse who's been battling the effects of a COVID-19-related illness returned to Tampa Bay Monday after months of treatment out of state.

What You Need To Know

  • Largo Medical Center Nurse Desmon Silva flown home via Jet ICU Monday

  • Silva was undergoing treatment and rehab for a rare central nervous system disease he developed following a COVID-19 infection

"It has been long-awaited and highly anticipated," Desmon Silva said in a video provided by his family after being asked how he felt about heading home to Florida.

“Unfortunately, the cold weather there took a toll on him — gloom and doom, basically," Silva's stepmother, Lynette Silva, said of the weather in Massachusetts, where he was being treated. "He’s ready to see the palm trees and the sunshine and looks forward to sitting next to the pool.”

The family previously told Spectrum Bay News 9 that doctors diagnosed Silva with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, last year, more than two months after he tested positive for COVID-19. It's a rare disease that attacks the central nervous system following viral infections.

Silva was left paralyzed and on a ventilator.

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

Jet ICU flew Silva home Monday. The company's wwners offered him the normally $25,000 flight for free.

"We’re all health care workers together," said Jet ICU Director of Emergency Medical Services Jared Wayt. "Once we found out that he was a nurse and a Tampa Bay resident, we decided we had to jump in to help out.”

Silva's family said he's in need of aggressive therapy and has a long road to recovery ahead. A GoFundMe account was created when he first fell ill to help pay for medical expenses. You can learn more here.

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