HCA Midwest Health
June 30, 2020

Emotional reunion will take place two months after Research Medical Center physician specialists collaborated with Menorah Medical Center physicians to transfuse donated blood plasma from a fully recovered COVID-19 patient into a 23-year-old critically ill patient.

Who: Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center Physicians + Caregivers

What: Reunion with 23-year-old Shakell Avery, one of region’s first COVID-19 patients, to receive convalescent blood plasma

When: 6pm, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Where: Menorah Medical Center, 5721 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kansas, Main Lobby Parking Lot/Circle Drive

The region’s first convalescent serum therapy clinical transfusions occurred on April 20 when physician specialists at Research Medical Center received donated blood plasma from a New York City COVID-19 survivor.  They collaborated with Menorah Medical Center physicians, transfusing a critically ill patient infected with the virus and hospitalized at Menorah Medical Center.

Today that patient, 23-year-old Shakell Avery—who spent 76 days in the hospital—will be reunited with his physicians and caregivers at Menorah Medical Center in a socially distanced, drive-by parade on the hospital’s campus. Recently discharged from rehabilitation, he has regained strength and, along with his family, wants to thank the physicians and nurses of Menorah Medical Center, as well as the collaborating physicians and team members at Research Medical Center, who were instrumental in the complex plasma transfusion.

“Our dedicated and compassionate staff cared for this young man for more than two months, with coordinated healthcare from world-class physicians of both Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center,” says Menorah Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Phil Buttell. “This parade will be so meaningful as we reunite everyone, providing a sense of healing and gratitude. The combined work caring for this patient, saving his life is a reflection of exceptional clinical care.”

“Without amazing care from the physicians, nurses and caregivers at Menorah Medical Center and the hard work and perseverance of the Research Medical Center collaborating physicians our beloved son, Shakell, would not be here today,” says Willetta Avery, Shakell’s mother. “We are filled with gratitude for their compassionate care during a very difficult and tenuous time.”

The convalescent plasma was donated from a fully recovered COVID-19 patient in New York City and coordinated on a national level with the support of BARDA and various blood suppliers, including the Community Blood Center of Kansas City, Missouri, and the American Red Cross, to provide what is hoped to be a breakthrough therapy for COVID-19. None of it would be possible without the generosity of plasma donors who have had COVID-19 and are now recovered. More than one hundred physicians, caregivers, and collaborating team members made a significant impact on Avery.

More than 170 HCA Healthcare facilities are participating in a nationwide expanded access protocol to make this therapy more widely available. Participation in the study enables patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 infections to receive the potentially life-saving therapy, allowing investigators to gather more data to determine if the therapy is effective. For more information about other initiatives HCA Midwest Health is taking in response to the COVID-19 health crisis can be found at HCA Midwest.

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