Ward-Highlands teacher fights for life

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Posted March 24, 2021 | By Ainslie Lee, Ocala Gazette

Teresa Twist [Submitted]

Teresa Twist wasn’t feeling well on Feb. 16, but not bad enough to miss work at Ward-Highlands Elementary School, where she helps teach exceptional students.

Just like every other day, Twist rode her moped to school that morning.

The next day, she tested positive for COVID-19. A week later, she was in the hospital, where she remains almost 40 days later in a medically induced coma, her lungs ravaged by the effects of the virus.

Chasity Price, Twists’ daughter, said doctors told her the woman needs a lung transplant.

Twist has severe pulmonary fibrosis. The damage is irreversible, Price said.

But Price said doctors told her UF Health Shands Hospital, where Twist could get a transplant, requires patients to wait eight weeks before they can go on the transplant list.

Twist is in week five.

“The doctors said that she’s deteriorating every day rapidly,” Price said. “Don’t know if she’s going to make the eight-week mark.”

Ken Garcia, a Shands spokesman, said he could not discuss the case due to privacy laws.

“However, in general, UF Health would work with a patient’s current medical team to assess what is best for the patient. There could be a pause while a medical issue is resolved,” Garcia said in an email.

According to Price, Twist was looking forward to getting her COVID-19 vaccine, but she wasn’t eligible before contracting the virus. The state’s focus was to vaccinate those 65 and older. At 62, she was a few years too young.

On the day she entered the hospital, Feb. 23, the state announced they would begin to vaccinate teachers and law enforcement officers 50 and older.

Faculty members at Ward-Highlands recently made a video for Twist to keep her spirits high. They sent well-wishes, prayers and hoped for her speedy return.

Before coming down with COVID-19, Twist was otherwise healthy, Price said.

“There’s nothing wrong with her,” Price said. “Except for now with COVID, there’s everything wrong with her.”

Despite being legally blind for most of her life, Twist never let it affect her role as mother, wife or teacher. It’s why she drove a moped. She could not pass the eye test for a driver’s license. She always found a way.

Meanwhile, Rich Twist, Teresa’s husband, is recovering from his bout with the virus. He is staying with Price, who lives in Tampa.

Rich Twist suffered a blood clot in his lung, pneumonia and an enlarged heart during his hospital stay, which ended two weeks ago.

Now he just wants his wife of 36 years to come home.

“We’re not looking to blame anyone,” he said. “We’re just trying to give her a fighting chance.”


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