Meet Jessie Bailey

At only 32 years old Jessie suffered from the most severe form of stroke imaginable. Looking back, she says the events were surreal.

“I’ll never forget it.  I just woke up and was lying in bed, my hand was turned inwards and I was talking from the side of my mouth.  I tried to get out of bed and I fell face first onto the floor.  I was so scared.”

Jessie’s husband, Jim, quickly recognized the signs of stroke and called 911. When the ambulance arrived, Jessie was taken to OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa where she was administered a drug commonly used to treat strokes, called TPA. When the medication did not work, she was rushed to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

There, a team of doctors and nurses stood poised, waiting for Jessie to arrive.  Dr. Sean Meagher worked quickly, performing an angiogram to stop the blood clot that had formed on the right side of Jessie’s brain.

“Dr. Meagher saved my life, if he hadn’t worked as fast as he did – I wouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that,” Jessie said.

The months that followed proved critical as she began working with Dr. Maria Karbowska-Jankowska and an entire rehab team to regain basic functions.  Quickly named the “poster child” for stroke rehabilitation; her progress was unheard of and drastically ahead of schedule.  In only a few short month, Jessie started to regain movement. 

Support flooded in and the Bailey’s found themselves surrounded by friends, family and a community of people who wanted to help.

Her story inspired - motivating many to open their hearts and give back to a local family in their time of need.  Whether it was chocolates from a neighbor, a custom-made walking cane or proceeds from a benefit fundraiser; love and support was everywhere.  

From a stroke and paralysis to rehab and beyond; Jessie’s journey is nothing short of unbelievable. Today, she is home and can perform all of her daily routines like walking, eating and even shampooing her own hair – something that she says feels wonderful to do again.  

“I just want to live through today and spend every day smiling and being thankful.  I never take anything for granted anymore.” 

With a new lease on life, Jessie continues to look at the future with a sense of appreciation for what she still has. Her journey inspired not only a hometown, but the caregivers who were, and continue to be, deeply invested in her recovery.

 Her powerful story is a reminder of how quickly life can change; to not take for granted being surrounded by health, mobility and a future with loved ones.

“I tell my kids and my family every day that they can never go to bed mad, because it’s not worth it.  You never know what morning brings.” 

Every day within the hospital we witness first-hand how donor dollars can affect change.  Recoveries like Jessie’s are made possible thanks to the support OSF HealthCare receives from generous organizations, individuals and community partners.  Thank you for all you do to make a difference in the lives of those we serve – for that we are eternally grateful!