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Napu Boychuk, the Ryerson dance student who was injured in Cuba over the winter break, has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and into Intermediate Care in Cira Garcia Hospital in Havana.
His sister, Tuutalik Boychuk, said it is still too soon to tell whether he will be able to walk or will use a wheelchair in the future, but she and her family remain hopeful.
“There is a little bit of improvement every day,” she said.
Boychuk’s physical therapists visit him twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. His sister said he is just starting to be able to make a fist. “The physiotherapist says he can move his leg a little bit,” she said.
Boychuk was on vacation with his father and sister when he drowned in an undertow while swimming at Varadero Beach in Cuba. After resuscitation, surgeons at Cira Garcia realigned two of his vertebrae with a surgical implant, but he was still left with a spinal cord injury and has yet to gain full use of his arms, legs and lungs.
His lungs are recovering slowly, and as soon as they are strong enough Boychuk will move to a hospital that specializes in physiotherapy. He is talking a little bit, his sister said, but he still relies on a tracheotomy to breathe. Eventually, when his lungs have recovered more, the tube will be taken out. He will remain in Cuba as long as he legally can, said Tuutalik.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, a resident can only be outside of Canada for a total of 212 days to maintain Ontario health coverage, but in special cases exceptions can be made.
Boychuk would have been graduating from the Ryerson dance program this spring, but Tuutalik is not sure when or if her brother will be resuming his studies. Ryerson told Napu the door is always open for whenever he would like to come back, Tuutalik said.
The family has been overwhelmed by support from Boychuk’s friends, who are making donations and taking the time to wish him well. Tuutalik is continuing to try and sort out insurance claims for his health coverage — his travel insurance was cut off Jan. 7 and they did not know until recently that Napu could claim RSU medical emergency travel insurance — but she said she is hopeful that it will all work out.
Several fundraisers have been held to raise money for Boychuk’s medical costs, including a recent “Dance Day” where dance classes were held at the Dance Teq Center on Queen Street West, raising $2,422. The Ryerson Theatre School also started a Tilt campaign that has raised $12,051.
Boychuk’s recovery might take a long time, but as his father told CBC News, “Napu feels that he will dance again.