When doctors told Jacksonville, Florida, resident Sherry Musser, she was at the end stage of heart disease and that there was nothing more they could do, her daughter, Elisha Covington, refused to accept that answer.

Elisha, who lives in Winston-Salem, researched the heart team at Wake Forest Baptist Health, decided her mom needed a second opinion, drove her from Florida to North Carolina and took action that led to a new heart for her mother.

Unplanned Road Trip

Elisha called her mom after learning she had been sent home from the hospital in Jacksonville.

“She didn’t sound good, and I knew that the hospital shouldn’t have sent her home,” recalls Elisha, who immediately made the long drive to Florida, picked up her mother and returned to North Carolina. “After a day she still wasn’t getting better, so I took her to the emergency room.”

Less than a month after that first trip to Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Emergency Department, Sherry was prepping for a heart transplant. Seeking emergency care eventually led to Sherry being admitted to the intensive care unit, Dr. Olivia Gilbert communicating with her about her options and moving Sherry to the care of the advanced heart failure team. Then Drs. Barbara Pisani, Geoffrey Jao and Aysha Amjad kept her stable on a balloon pump and medications until a transplant donor was found.

About two weeks later, on Feb. 26, 2021, Sherry received an early morning call from Dr. Pisani that a heart was available. She was prepped all day for the surgery, which began late that evening and lasted approximately eight hours. She then spent another two and a half weeks in the hospital recovering, before returning home on March 18.

The mother and daughter admit to being amazed at how quickly it all happened and how swiftly Sherry began to return to normal.

New Respect for Medicine

Sherry’s progress has been impressive. She is watching her diet, walking two miles a day and back to leading a normal life. Her plans include making Winston-Salem her new home and celebrating her 64th birthday in June 2021. Her checkups at Wake Forest Baptist have gone from every week to every two weeks to now just once a month, each visit showing that her body is accepting the new heart.

Elisha is quick to praise the team that helped her mom and that she says renewed her faith in medicine.

“Being her daughter, being her advocate, I was impressed,” she says. “These are some of the best in their field, and they brought genuine care to my mom and were really warm – I know that’s not the dynamic in all hospitals. I think it’s unique to them.”

Says Sherry, “I didn’t feel alone. Each member of the team played a great part in my healing process. The whole advanced heart failure team treated me like I was a VIP. I loved them all, truly.”