Death of woman from the flu spurred family to launch foundation

Kendra Mann O’Brien was a mother of two

Kara Marxer
January 11, 2018 - 4:53 am

Kendra's Legacy Foundation


Deaths from influenza are increasing as hospitals and doctors offices are inundated with sick people.

As of January 10, 2018 - nine people in Kansas had died directly from the flu this season, 19 in Missouri.

Doctors say hundreds more deaths in both states can be attributed to complications associated with the virus.

One woman who lost her daughter to influenza in 2012 says she made it her life's work to make sure everyone gets vaccinated each year.

Joan Mann said she never expected to lose her daughter, Kendra Mann O’Brien, at the age of 36.

"Sunday she was in urgent care at 8 o'clock and Monday at 11:30 she was in the emergency room, fighting for her life," Joan remembers. "That's how fast that virus attacked her body."

Kendra, a mother of two, celebrated her birthday that year in a hospital intensive care unit. She was hooked up to a machine that oxygenated her blood because her lungs were failing.

"After two weeks the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) cleared up her lungs, but in the meantime she had other complications," Joan said. "Sepsis was one of those complications, so everything was against her."

Kendra died April 5, 2012 from complications associated with the flu. Like a lot of people, Kendra was not worried about getting her flu inoculation that year. 

"I know I've met some mothers who say, 'I make sure my kids get the flu shot,'" Joan said. "I say, 'I hope you do to, because you're the most important one -- you're the one that takes care of everybody -- you have to be well."

Joan launched the Kendra's Legacy Foundation in 2013. Volunteers go to elementary schools to conduct flu shot clinics. Joan also shares her daughter's story nationwide, hoping to raise awareness about how deadly the flu can be.

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