Sullivan County woman battling COVID-19 in Vanderbilt ICU

Local Coronavirus Coverage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Bluff City woman is fighting COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Her mother said the last month has been shocking because her daughter was otherwise healthy.

Lexi Lester tested positive for COVID-19 on July 24. She turns 22 years old on Thursday. A recent Virginia High School graduate, Lester has a long way to go with her battle against the virus.

Lester has been heavily sedated and given chest tubes and breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Her mother Sabrina Lester called this last month a roller coaster.

“She has a trach. She has two chest tubes, of course, she’s on the ECMO and the vent,” Sabrina Lester said.

When Lexi first tested positive three and a half weeks ago, her condition wasn’t serious, but things quickly took a turn. She was not showing severe symptoms until July 27.

“She came downstairs and said, ‘Mom, I can’t breathe,’ and she obviously was having difficulty breathing,” Sabrina said.

Sabrina took Lexi to the Bristol Regional Medical Center where she was immediately admitted. Her condition did not improve, then a bed became available at Vanderbilt. On Aug. 5, she was flown to Nashville. She is now heavily sedated in Vanderbilt’s ICU.

Lexi’s condition is stable right now, but improvements come and go.

“It is up and down. We can make improvements one day, we can go backward the next day,” Sabrina said.

Sabrina cannot make direct contact with her daughter, instead speaking through Zoom outside the room.
Sabrina says it’s a long journey ahead because the ECMO process, which allows the heart and lungs to rest by pumping and oxygenating blood outside the body, can take weeks or even months.

“Everyone that I have encountered has said this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Sabrina said.

Her daughter’s condition surprised Sabrina because she’s young and did not have any lung-related conditions.

“It’s absolutely shocking to me that I see her laying there every day. It’s very, very hard,” Sabrina said.

Sabrina said the situation has been difficult because her husband, Scott Creswell, is also battling COVID, but not as severely. Sabrina said she was vaccinated, which allowed her to visit Lexi at the hospital while taking care of Creswell at home.

Lexi is unvaccinated. Sabrina said Lexi had not yet gotten the shot because cases were low in the area and the vaccine became less of a priority.

She urged unvaccinated individuals to go get the shot.

“I saw how it affect both my husband and my child and I was vaccinated and didn’t have any of those issues.”

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