Lexington teacher healthy one day, then fighting for her life the next; how the community is rallying around her family

Lexington teacher healthy one day, then fighting for her life the next; how the community is rallying around her family
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 10:47 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - “It’s all overwhelming and crazy. I mean to even think I would be having this interview because of the story going on.”

That’s because just 20 weeks ago, 46-year-old Emily Presley was completely healthy. A STEM teacher at Wellington Elementary School, wife to Jeff Presley, and mother to 13-year-old Jackson and 16-year-old Ella. In May, Presley came down with what she thought was a cold. A few days later, she knew something was really wrong.

“When I walk in, I can just see her. I knew this is not good,” said Emily’s husband Jeff.

Within 30 minutes of being admitted to Baptist Health, Presley was put on a ventilator and then into a medically induced coma. Jeff was told she had parainfluenza presenting as bronchitis. That made her immune system crash, and Presley contracted a bacterial staph infection with pneumonia.

“It lit her lungs up just like a volcano.”

At that point, the ventilator was useless. Presley was taken to UK Hospital, where an ECMO machine was the only thing keeping her alive for 18 weeks. Until Saturday, when a bed became available at Northwestern in Chicago.

“It’s all overwhelming, which is a word I’ve bet I’ve used a million times through all of this. Overwhelming, daunting, exhausting. So once we got here it’s adjusting to a new place. It’s a totally new hospital, new staff, new routine.”

And a new apartment where Jeff will live for the next 12 months while Emily is being treated. Jeff’s mom will stay at their home in Lexington with their kids.

“She’s joyful by nature. I call her the social butterfly. I’m introverted. She’s extroverted. I’m biased but seeing how her friends, fellow teachers, principal and family have rallied around her. It just speaks volumes to who she is.”

Tens of thousands of dollars continuously come in through a GoFundMe her friends started. As Presley said, all they can do now is continue to help Emily write a better story.

“If this were a book, this is just a middle part. These are just chapters being written. This is certainly not the end. So we’ve tried to live and inspire to that motto to live the better story.”

If you’d like to donate, or to learn more of Emily’s story, you can find a link to the GoFundMe here.