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Family Stories

The Mann-O’Brien Family

FFF Advocate:
Joan Mann (mother)
Place of Residence:
Leawood, KS
Date of Child's Death:
April 5, 2012
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Kendra Mann-O’Brien

Kendra was a healthy mother of two when she lost her life to flu.


Kendra Mann-O’Brien was 35-years-old when she contracted the flu on or about March 1, 2012. Three days later, Kendra was diagnosed with influenza A at her local urgent care. Her vitals were good – some wheezing was noted, but no X-ray was taken. The following day, Kendra was having difficulty breathing and her chest hurt. She was rushed to the emergency room at a local hospital. The respiratory department was immediately called, as Kendra’s blood oxygen levels were dangerously low. She was intubated and placed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Four days later, Kendra developed sepsis, which invaded her body and her doctor was alarmed. Kendra’s condition worsened during the night and the following day she was life-flighted to another hospital in Kansas City, Missouri and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The ECMO machine worked for Kendra’s heart and lungs for approximately two weeks, after which time her lungs cleared up.

In the meantime, Kendra’s sepsis had caused other problems, one of which required three surgeries on her stomach and intestines. Upon examination of a removed section of her small intestine, a rare fungal infection was discovered. After the third surgery, on April 4, 2012, the family was told the heartbreaking news that irreparable damage had occurred and on the following day Kendra passed.

Since Kendra’s passing, her parents, Joan and Kennis, have become strong advocates for flu awareness and annual flu vaccination. They want to help prevent their tragedy from happening to other families. The family started Kendra’s Legacy Foundation in 2013, which promotes flu awareness, education and vaccination. One of their special projects is to host flu clinics in local schools in Kendra’s honor.

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