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Big Country teacher fights for life after getting flu

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ALBANY, Texas -- A 35-year-old special education teacher at Mullin ISD is fighting for her life after doctors diagnosed her with two strains of the flu.

Crystal O’Connor Whitley was first diagnosed with the flu on Jan. 22 at an emergency room in Brownwood. Her mother, Mary Kay O’Conner said the next day within hours she was put on life support.

“It's devastating,” O’Conner said. “It's like I was living in a nightmare and couldn't get out of it.”

O’Conner said doctors in Brownwood immediately knew Whitley was in trouble so they called for her to be airlifted to Baylor Scott & White Health in Dallas.

Whitley was placed in critical condition and on a ventilator. Her mother said she couldn’t even move.

"It's hard when you see your child laying there,” O’Connor said. “You don't know what's going to happen the next day or if there will be a next day or not."

Doctors discovered Whitley had double pneumonia and a staph infection in both lungs, which made her resistant to antibiotics.

Whitley was retested for the flu -- and that’s when doctors found out that she had two strains of the flu.

"We asked the doctor why did it hit her so fast and so hard and the doctor said well, it was the perfect storm. It just hit her,” O’Conner said.

The antibiotics doctors used for Whitley failed so she underwent surgery on both lungs, while still being connected to a ventilator.

O’Connor said her daughter has been in God’s hands.

Whitley had a baby boy just three months before she was diagnosed with the flu, and her mother said there are a lot of people rooting for her and waiting for her to get well soon.

She is slowly getting better, according to her mother. Whitley was able to get out of bed on her own and she is beginning to speak.

"I think she's going to make it. She's a fighter. She's tough. She's not very big but she's tough,” O’Connor said.

While she remains in critical condition in Dallas and away from home, her mother said she has not lost faith.

A GoFundMe account was created to help Whitley and her family. They’ve raised more than $4,000 of their $10,000 goal.

O’Conner said she wants parents to know this illness is serious.

Days before Whitley was diagnosed with the flu, she called her mother and told her that she sent a student home with fever. Later she found out the student had the flu.

O’Conner said parents should not take their children to school if they show any signs of the flu because they might get others ill.


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