Jenny Spell came forward to tell her harrowing story to encourage people to get the flu vaccine. The 18-year-old ended up on an ECMO heart-lung machine for five days in the fall of 2014 and eventually had to have a kidney transplant.
She is now enrolled at the University of Florida in the fall to study pre-pharmacy. People Magazine covered her graduation from King’s Academy.
“Jenny and I were happy to have had an opportunity to speak to People about her story,” her mother, Anne Spell, said.
“She faced tremendous suffering with both resilience and faith, and I am very proud of her. Together, she and I hope that her story will make a life-saving difference in the lives of others through flu vaccination and organ donation awareness.”
The teenager spent 241 days — about two-thirds of a year — at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital after going into cardiogenic shock, meaning the heart can’t pump enough blood to sustain your body. Her organs started failing one by one. Liver. Pancreas. Gall bladder. Kidneys. She contracted a deadly fungal infection and suffered an aneurysm in her abdomen.
“Jenny was the sickest patient I’ve ever cared for with the flu and probably one of the sickest patients I’ve ever cared for,” said Dr. Gerald Lavandosky, managing director at Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida at Joe DiMaggio.
To read the Palm Beach Post’s feature on Jenny click here.
To read People Magazine’s story on Jenny click here.