Father Fights for His Son after Brave Act Left Him Paralyzed

On June 16, 2016, Wolfgang Sebastián Ribeiro Couto, who was enrolled at the IPAL Latin America high school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ended his daily classes and left school with three friends like every other day.

They had an established routine: after leaving their physical education class, they re-charged their bus cards, and from there they went to their respective homes. However, that day they were intercepted by a thief.

The man asked for Wolfie’s cellphone, and he gave it to him. However, when the man pointed his gun at one of Wolfie’s friends, he threw himself at the man to stop him. In the struggle, the man fired the gun. A bullet was caught on the teenager’s neck.

He was rushed to the Paroissien Hospital, where they were able to revive him as he arrived at the site with a cardiac arrest.

Diego Abel Ribeiro, Wolfie’s dad, was working at the city’s center when he received the call that would change his life.

"I hung up and drove from work to the hospital when I arrived they [his family] were all crying and hugging each other. I went into the guard and saw him: he was covered and intubated, without any sign of movement," recalls Diego.

Still, in shock, Diego found a doctor to understand better what had happened. She told him the most painful words that someone has told him ever: "This boy is not going to be able to move anymore."

The doctor explained that the gunshot in the neck had destroyed Wolfie’s spine, so he was in a problematic position.

"They told us that he had quadriplegia and that he was on a respirator, that he could not breathe, things that you never expect and cannot believe,” Diego recalled.

In the face of the devastating situation, Diego and his family opted to make modifications at home: they enlarged the doors, the bathroom and adapted everything so that Wolfgang could live there after spending months in intensive care.

Despite his situation, Wolfie has maintained an excellent disposition to keep living. He exceeded the doctors' expectations when he was able to start breathing by himself again. These days, he only uses the respirator when he sleeps.

He also finished high school and is now enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires to study psychology.

Now his family has a second objective: to get enough money to give the 18-year-old boy a better medical treatment.

The destiny is Cuba, where Wolfie will be able to access a rehabilitation process that could change his life forever at the International Center for Neurological Restoration (CIREN).

"They [the Cuban doctors] asked for some medical exams on Wolfie and I sent it to them. This consists of a week of all kinds of studies to diagnose what you have and what you can work on,” explained Diego.

Wolfie should travel to the country to undergo several studies, and then, perform an intensive rehabilitation of seven hours a day, Monday through Saturday.

The treatment costs $13,000 – and doesn’t include the fares for the airplane tickets for both Wolfie and his companions.

The family has started a campaign on social media to raise funds for the trip and the treatment. All the details can be found on their Instagram account.

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