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Remembering Myriam Correa-Sherman, A Woman With A Special Heart

Miami Herald
Myriam Correa-Sherman received a heart transplant from Jackson Hospital surgeons on March 26,1991, and became an advocate for organ donation awareness in the Hispanic community.

The Miami Herald's Howard Cohen often  gets to share the stories of regular Miamians through an obituary. His most recent piece looks at Myriam Correa-Sherman, one of the first Hispanics to receive a heart transplant at Jackson Memorial Hospital back in 1991. The gift she received inspired her to dedicate the rest of her life to raising awareness in the Hispanic community about the importance of donating organs. 

Here is what Cohen had to say about Myriam Correa-Sherman's story: 

Myriam was a representative for Pitney Bowes. As a child she had had rheumatic fever, which damaged her heart. So in 1991 she had to have a new heart. Jackson gave her a new heart from a donor and she became the most grateful person. She never got to personally thank the individual who gave the heart, obviously, so she was determined she is going to treat that heart well and she was going to make sure other people in her position know about organ donation. She was the 34th patient to receive a heart at Jackson at the time.

She spent her life as an advocate, especially trying to reach the Hispanic community on this issue.

She went above and beyond. She would go to regular meetings at the hospital along with mentors and speak to and support and comfort patients who were awaiting transplants. She became a national advocate because the Rose Bowl Parade committee picked her among three other Hispanic women in the region to go on a float at the Rose Bowl Parade in 2006. And it was the first bilingual signage on a float in the Rose Bowl’s 100 plus years history -- Donate Life, Donar Vida. It allowed her on a national platform to tell her story and to reach all communities, but she wanted to especially reach the Hispanic community because awareness wasn't as strong and among Hispanics diabetes and hypertension is higher. There is a need for organs, often kidney, heart, lungs. There were 22,000 Latinos waiting for a transplant in 2014 according to Jackson. So she was just very determined to reach all these people.

Her son told me a delightful story about her. She loved her adopted work, spreading this message, and she spoke English and Spanish so she could reach two communities that way. But she loved reading newspapers and she would tell her son, ‘Oh, I wish I could speak Portuguese and Creole because I would love to reach the Haitian community and the Brazilian community. I need to know more languages so I could talk to more people.’ I thought that was really sweet.

Credit http://www.donatelifefloat.org/wp/experience-the-history/
The 2006 Rose Parade float entry for Donate Life.

I love talking to you about some of these stories that you find and how you find them. How did you find out about her?

I found out about Myriam through a colleague. She was a distant cousin of Myriam and she told me about her story,  about being the heart transplant recipient and all the work she did on behalf of that. And it struck me right away.

I look for inspiring stories, someone who did something in the community above the norm that they didn't have to do. She received the heart. That is great. Her job then was to live with that heart. That's really all she had to do. No one would have asked her to do any more, but she did more. She went out constantly and told her story, worked with people who needed transplants. It's very scary when you find out you need a new organ. Aren't you terrified? Don't you want to talk to someone who had it and is living a healthy life? This woman lived 25 years with that heart. And sadly when she passed, she passed from cancer, but she lived 25 years with this heart.

She was determined: ‘I'm going to take good care of this heart.’ So she just inspired me and I think telling her story will touch a lot of people and it'll keep her message going. That was her dream: ‘I've got to keep my message going,’ so in telling the story here we're furthering that, we're saying, you know, pay attention, or if you're willing become an organ donor. This is her story. She did great with it.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/obituaries/article94623147.html#storylink=cpy