To say that Myriam Correa-Sherman had a lot of heart would not be an understatement.
On March 26, 1991, she became the 34th heart transplant recipient at Jackson Memorial Hospital and among the first Hispanics to receive a donated heart at the medical center.
That distinction was never lost on Correa-Sherman who became a dedicated organ donation advocate who spread her message nationwide.
On New Year’s Day 2006, the Pitney Bowes rep was one of four Hispanic women chosen from around the country to ride on the Donate Life/Dona Vida float in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California — the first float in the parade’s 127-year history that had a logo in English and Spanish.
Correa-Sherman died at 69 on Aug. 7 at her Aventura home of complications from cancer. Her family continues her message of giving and gratitude.
“We had 25 years of celebrating Mom’s wonderful life,” said her son Mario Correa. “She was really born on March 26, 1991, she always said. ‘That’s the day I got my heart transplant.’ She was able to see my sister and I marry and graduate college. She became a grandmother and got to see her three grandchildren and nephews and cousins grow up. She was there every step of the way going through the process, celebrating her life.”
In 2004, Jackson honored Correa-Sherman with its Star of Excellence Award, given to organ transplant recipients and their mentors who volunteer to offer support and comfort to those awaiting transplants. Every month she’d mentor heart- and lung-transplant recipients at Jackson.
The Rose Bowl ride on the float to spread awareness to the Hispanic community two years later was another thrill for a Bogota-born woman who had never been to California. “At first, I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited,” Correa-Sherman told the Miami Herald in 2006.
A year later, she put her daily walks and participation in annual Transplant Olympics to good use. Correa-Sherman joined 15 teammates from the Miami law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius for a 3.1-mile walk at the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run in downtown Miami. She completed her first corporate run in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
“I’ve never gotten a chance to thank the person who gave this to me, but all I know is I’m grateful,” she told the Herald in 2007. “I’ve taken care of this gift ever day since.”
A quarter-century later, her mission to educate the Hispanic community and others about organ donation hadn’t dimmed. “There is a great lack of Hispanic donors and many Latinos are on waiting lists for transplants, especially kidney,” Correa-Sherman told El Nuevo Herald in April on the 25th anniversary of her transplant.
Born Aug. 26, 1946, in Bogota, Colombia, Correa-Sherman battled rheumatic fever as a child, which led to heart damage. She moved to Miami in 1976 and became a supervisor with Pitney Bowes, handling, among others, the Morgan, Lewis account. When she retired a few years ago, several attorneys from the firm’s Philadelphia home office flew to the Miami office to celebrate with her.
“They embraced her like part of her family,” her son said. “She was a huge influence. She always wanted us to strive to do our best to give and don’t expect anything in return.”
Devoting much of her time as an advocate — yes, she was an organ donor — was her way of honoring her own father who stressed the act of giving freely. Her one wish as she became a sought-after speaker or interview subject by media outlets? To be fluent in more than English and Spanish.
Correa-Sherman joked with her son that she could be in more newspapers to reach the Haitian and Brazilian communities. “‘They have different languages and I wish I could learn them and speak to them about organ awareness.’”
In addition to her son, Correa-Sherman is survived by her husband Ronald Sherman; daughter Claudia Correa-Urbina; grandchildren Natalia and Carolina Correa-Ferro and Andres Urbina; her mother Tonny Correa; three sisters and two brothers. Services will be at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 11 at Fred Hunter’s Funeral Homes, 6301 Taft St., Hollywood.