Spreading awareness and understanding of the serious threats of influenza.

Kendra’s Story


Kendra Mann-O’Brien was 35-years-old when she contracted the flu on or about March 1, 2012. Three days later, after a visit to Urgent Care, Kendra discovered she had Type A influenza. All 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 ICU. Four days later, a blood infection, or sepsis, invaded her body and her doctor was alarmed.

Kendra’s condition worsened during the night and the following day, she was lifeflighted to another hospital in Kansas City, Missouri and placed on 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, the sepsis in her blood 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.



Dr. Michelle Haines, Director of Cardiovascular Intensive Care, St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, was present when Kendra arrived at St. Luke’s ICU on March 9, 2012.  “Kendra O’Brien was a beautiful and loving mother, daughter, sister and wife whose life was suddenly and tragically taken in the Spring of 2012 by the flu. Her death was a shock to everyone! How could a seemingly healthy person in the prime of her life die from the flu?” 

"The truth is, even healthy people can be affected, and serious complications from influenza can happen at any age."



Kendra’s family started Kendra’s Legacy Foundation in 2013, which promotes flu awareness, education and vaccination.