Family pleas for help for nephew in ICU after testing positive for COVID-19

Posted at 7:55 AM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 08:55:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A family is pleading for help after their nephew tested positive for COVID-19.

He's now in ICU, on a respirator and quickly maxing out care.

Allie Gasior and her husband, Booker Brown, said when you meet their nephew, Shakell Avery, you won't forget him.

"He just has the biggest heart you could ever imagine, and infectious smile, big personality, anyone who’s ever met him will say that," Brown said. "You will leave that conversation knowing you had a friend for life."

Shakell was admitted to a local hospital Monday, taken to ICU Tuesday and it still fighting for his life as of Friday.

"Tuesday at midnight he was intubated, and by that morning he was almost maxed out on ventilator support," Gasior said.

"It escalated really quickly, so it was unbelievable how fast he went downhill," Brown said.

Shakell is 23 years old. He has an 18-month-old son with his high school sweetheart.

Brown and Gasoir live in Ohio. They made a Facebook post, hoping to reach out to the Kansas City community, where Avery is from. They're asking anyone who's fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.

"This is potentially one of his last hopes," Gasior said.

According to the American Red Cross, "Individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and have fully recovered have developed antibodies to the virus; these antibodies may help patients seriously ill with COVID-19 in their recovery."

Gasior and Booker are hoping it will help patients like Shakell.

"We had to get the word our to see if there's anyone who can possibly be able to help us," Gasior said. "Young people really need to take this seriously, they're not immune to this disease."

Gasior and Booker both understand how serious COVID-19 is.

Shakell comes from a family of first responders. Gasior is a surgeon. Brown is a former KCPD officer.

As they've showed up for others, they're hoping someone can show up for their nephew.

"The hardest part in all of this is you know any other circumstance, any other time in this world, I'd be able to get on a plane, I'd be in Kansas City with my nephew, hold his hand, but we're all unable to do that," Brown said.

Gasior says it's unclear how exactly Shakell contracted the virus, it may have been from someone who wasn't showing any symptoms.

They went on to say even if someone cannot help Shakell, there are so many people like him, who may need help.

"Even if there is someone out there who can't help Shakell, maybe there's so many people out there like Shakell who need help, who need convalescent plasma," Gasior said. "So, going to would be a great place to start to get registered for someone who can help."

"We know that this is not just a fight for Shakell, but different people around the country are also dealing with what they're dealing with right now," Brown said.

American Red Cross has specific requirements to donate plasma:

  • To be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, individuals must meet all regular blood donor requirements
  • Be completely symptom-free for at least 14 days, as well as meet additional qualifications
  • Individuals who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have since experienced a full recovery
  • Contact local blood center to determine eligibility