Family and friends of a Ryerson University dance student are trying to raise money for medical treatment and a trip home after a tragic incident in Cuba left him paralyzed.
Napu Boychuk was just a few months from graduating when, while swimming off of Cuba's Varadero beach on Dec. 13 last year, he was pulled underwater by a strong undertow current. Part of his spinal cord was shattered in the ordeal and he nearly drowned.
He was resuscitated and taken to Havana's Cira Garcia hospital, where he underwent an emergency operation during which surgeons realigned his fifth and sixth vertebrae with a surgical implant.
According to a statement circulated to Ryerson faculty by the chair of the school's theatre department, the surgery was a success, but Boychuk has not recovered the use of his arms or legs.
He remains on a ventilator in the hospital's intensive care unit, as the incident left his lungs badly damaged by sea water and sand. Doctors have recommended Boychuk stay in Cuba until at least mid-February.
An online crowdfunding campaign has begun to help his family raise enough to pay for his hospital care. His travel insurance expired on January 7, and according to his sisters, the cost of treatment already exceeds $20,000.
The effort has raised over $1,400 so far.
Boychuk's family has been posting regular updates and photos to his Facebook page.