FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Coral Springs teen, who was left paralyzed from the neck down after falling and nearly drowning, is starting to move again with some help from doctors.

It has been a difficult few weeks for Coral Springs resident Jose Manuel Castro. The 19-year-old was accepted to the University of Florida on a full scholarship, but a boating excursion Dec. 20 would change his life.

Castro fell into shallow water, suffering a traumatic spinal cord injury and nearly drowning.

“It’s not uncommon to have these types of accidents that we’ve experienced,” said Dr. Jose Lozada, a trauma surgeon at Broward Health Medical Center. “When someone is actually underwater for a time, we expect lungs to get worse beore they get better.”

“It’s a very difficult pain that I don’t deserve, to any parents,” said Rocio Valdez, Castro’s mother.

The patient was taken to Broward Health North with a cervical spine fracture and was later transferred to Broward Health Medical Canter for further treatment.

That’s where doctors discovered he had also suffered a life-threatening lung injury and had to be put on a ventilator.

On top of that, Castro also tested positive for COVID-19.

Lozada said Castro’s situation was very delicate.

“Because of that, we essentially had to be aggressive and figure out every single way possible and be ready for whichever mechanism that we may need to at least keep him alive and give him some sort of recovery if possible,” he said.

Under the care of Lozada and the staff at the hospital’s intensive care unit, Castro’s lungs slowly recuperated.

“One day, his lungs started to show a little bit, a little bit of recovery. He’s been fighting ever since,” said Lozada. “His attitude, his family’s attitude has been absolutely remarkable.”

Castro’s loved ones expressed their gratitude toward his caregivers during this difficult period.

“For me, [the most important thing] was he’s going to be alive, and this is thanks to Broward [Health] Hospital and most especially to Dr. Lozada,” said Valdez.

Castro has played sports since an early age and was a top-ranked Florida tennis player, but the accident would leave him paralyzed from the neck down.

That, however, didn’t stop him from giving his all.

“I always pushed him to make me try the next step in recovery and always try my limits,” said Castro.

Now, more than a month later, Castro is showing signs of improvement. He can now move his arms and hands and has small movements in his legs.

“Absolutely, 100% of the strongest individuals that I’ve met in my career,” said Lozada.

“He has a very big future,because he is a fighter,” said Valdez.

Although the road to recovery is far from over, Castro said he’s optimistic about the future.

“I’m gonna take it day by day, but I am praying for a full recovery,” he said. “Personally, I know it’s gonna happen.”

Castro will be discharged from Broward Health Medical Center this week to a facility that specializes in spine rehabilitation.

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