NORTON, Mass. — A veteran Norton police sergeant and father of four is battling COVID-19 in the intensive care unit of a Boston hospital.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Desfosses was diagnosed with COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia in early December, according to Jeffa Lombardi, a family friend who created a GoFundMe page Monday. Desfosses tried to recover at home for two weeks before going to a hospital. He was identified as being in critical condition and transferred to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Norton Police Chief Brian Clark told Boston 25 News Desfosses was intubated on Tuesday and placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. In ECMO, blood is pumped outside of the body to a heart-lung machine which removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“His lungs are not healing and his body cannot fight any longer without risking further complications,” Lombardi wrote Tuesday in an update on the GoFundMe page. “He is extremely scared, but I feel some relief he won’t have to experience this struggle and anxiety day in and day out.”
Clark said he and Desfosses attended the police academy together. Desfosses joined the Norton Police Department in 1988 as a part-time special police officer. He was later hired as a full-time officer and promoted about a decade ago to detective sergeant.
“He’s a tough guy, probably one of the toughest guys I know,” Clark said. “He sent me a text on Sunday that said he’s not going to let COVID win and I have to believe him.”
Clark said in addition to being a highly respected officer, Desfosses is also a family man and great dad.
“He’s got a funny bone to him,” Clark said. “He’s always the person that’s writing poems and doing jokes.”
Clark said since Thanksgiving, eleven Norton police officers have tested positive for COVID-19. With the exception of Desfosses, the others were either asymptomatic of had minor symptoms. They are now healthy and back at work.
“This disease is very serious and unpredictable,” Clark said. “You never know what you’re going to get for symptoms.”
Desfosses and his wife, Jessica, have two young daughters together. Lombardi said Jessica has had to take a leave from work to care for their girls.
In less than 48 hours, the GoFundMe page she created raised more than $25,000 to support the Desfosses family
“Steve has been caring for his community for over 30 years as a highly respected police officer,” Lombardi wrote. “He and his family are incredibly grateful for the amazing outpouring of support during this devastating time.”
Lombardi said Desfosses’ main concern, aside from returning home eventually, is making sure his family is taken care of.
“We’re certainly hoping and praying Steve pulls through,” Clark said. “Every belief and positive thought in my body is that he will.”
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