"Can't believe people are falling for this."
GoFundMe is investigating a fundraiser set up by an Instagrammer who claims she was neurologically damaged by the Covid vaccine.
Dominique De Silva had managed to raise more than $17,500 of her $50k goal before the account was flagged, and all contributors offered a refund.
The 23-year-old plucked heartstrings on July 17, when she posted a video of herself apparently suffering from dystonia, or involuntary muscle contractions:
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"March 18th, 2021 is the day that I made a decision that flipped my entire world upside down," she explained.
About to move from Las Vegas to North Carolina, she said she decided to get the Pfizer Covid vaccine "to play it safe and make sure those around me weren't in harms way"; she also claimed she had underlying autoimmune issues.
"I'm not ashamed of why I received the vax because I know my heart was in a good place and my intentions were pure," she wrote, "and yet here I am struggling with adverse side effects from this life changing decision."
"Doctors have been pretty lost on what exactly is going on... running multiple tests, medical imaging and neurological exams coming back with no answers."
The symptoms that come and go, she said, include dystonia, difficulty walking and weakness within the legs, dull aching & sharp shooting pains within the legs, vertigo, heart palpitations, lack of sensation throughout the body, cold sensation in the legs, pain behind the eyes, and a tremor in right hand.
The symptoms that affect her 24/7, she said, include: short term memory loss, trouble forming sentences, feeling out of body, depth perception off, visual changes, and severe brain fog.
"I am not sharing this post to scare anyone out of making their own decision, however I do believe that people must know exactly what the risks are," she said. "These stories shouldn’t be so hidden on social media platforms or the news and I'm done being so quiet about this."
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According to her GoFundMe, "Help Dominique recover from the Covid-19 vaccine", set up by her friend, none of the doctors or neurologists can figure out what is wrong with her. However it claims only her "functional neurologist" (rather than a traditional one) is of any help, but not covered under her insurance, hence the fundraiser.
"In addition to this, Dom is continuing to schedule multiple appointments with doctors all over the country until her search for answers is over and she can finally get her life back to what it was before," it states.
In August, Dominique turned to TikTok, her single post — a montage of her struggles — garnering more than 12M views.
"There are countless stories like mine," she wrote. "We trusted science & now live in a never ending nightmare."
Luckily, Dominique does appear to occasionally enjoy a reprieve from her symptoms... her Instagram page is filled with happy and carefree videos and photos — posted after she got the vaccine — such as her beautiful wedding day. Meanwhile she continues to document her ordeal on her blog.
While the majority of commenters send sympathies, condolences and prayers, not everyone was convinced her "condition" was vaccine related... or indeed even real.
"Can't believe people are falling for this," one top comment on TikTok read.
"But if you had underlying conditions... portraying yourself as a regular healthy person that got the vaccine is a lie," another insisted.
On Reddit, the commenters were even less merciful.
"Only side effect she's having from the vaccine is being a shitty actor," one wrote
"She's channeling hard the Trump impersonation of the reporter with a disability," another jibed.
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One Reddit user, who themselves claimed to be physically disabled, was particularly offended.
"I am physically disabled in part from a neurological disorder. One, this is offensive as f--k," they wrote.
"Two, this has to rank among the worst disability impressions I have seen. And the inconsistencies are pretty big. If you are going to fake a condition, at least have dignity and do some research. This wouldn't even get her cast in a high school play."
"Three, mental illness is faking for things like sympathy, attention, avoidance of expectations. Financially profiting from your faking requires logic and insight not usually present in severe mental illness."
"Four, she is endangering countless lives spreading propaganda like this and needs to be held accountable for that. If they refuse to vaccinate based on her shenanigans, her followers won’t just hurt themselves but endanger innocent people."
Real or not, GoFundMe told TooFab it was now investigating, having already taken down more than 250 fundraisers "attempting to promote misinformation related to vaccines."
"I can confirm that our Trust & Safety team is investigating and has reached out for more information," a spokesperson told TooFab. "If any donor would like to request a refund in the meantime, we will process it for them."
"Fundraisers raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform. Over the last several years, we have removed over 250 fundraisers attempting to promote misinformation related to vaccines."
"It's important to know that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means funds are guaranteed to go to the right place or donors will get a refund."
As of Saturday morning, the GoFundMe was still active.
TooFab has reached out to Da Silva for comment.