Zimmerman woman paralyzed after missing window for urgent medical care during riots

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A 59-year-old Zimmerman woman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she had an extreme medical emergency May 29 but was delayed getting specialized treatment during Twin Cities riots and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Retired Minnesota National Guard Master Sgt. Launette Figliuzzi said she had a spinal stroke and needed to be airlifted to a metro hospital that specializes in emergency stroke care, but airspace over the metropolitan area was restricted at the time and major highways were closed as well due to the rioting.

“I needed to get an injection into my spine as soon as possible to try and break up the blood clot,” Figliuzzi said. “But since we had to go by ambulance, it took an hour and a half, about twice as long, to get to the specialized stroke center, and when I got there I was told I had missed my window for a safe injection, and now I am paralyzed."

Figliuzzi said the spinal injection has a “very good chance” of succeeding if it is administered quickly and to not have that opportunity to possibly avoid paralysis has made her angry.

“It is terribly frustrating to know I was essentially denied that type of care and a possible treatment,” Figliuzzi said. “This has profoundly affected my life and my family’s life in ways I could never have imagined.”

While Figliuzzi was delayed in getting into the Twin Cities, her son, Anthony LaBrie, was deployed with the Minnesota National Guard in Minneapolis and St. Paul and his primary assignment was protecting first responders handling the riots.

“I was able to help out somebody’s mother, somebody’s father or somebody’s sister and somebody’s brother,” LaBrie said. “But I am sad I wasn’t able to help one of my own.”

LaBrie is president of the nonprofit 2 Wheels 4 Heroes, which raises money for veterans who need help. The group held a motorcycle rally to help with his mom’s medical needs.

“The board of the nonprofit voted to do this so there would not be a conflict of interest,” LaBrie said. “So we are very grateful for that help and any help we can get from the public.”

A GoFundMe page has raised nearly $21,000 of its $35,000 goal to help cover the cost of a specialized wheelchair for Figliuzzi.

Editor’s Note: Sgt. Launette Figliuzzi’s last name has been updated to the correct spelling in this report.