“Things are Finally Starting to Look Up”

Brian Patterson | 08/23/17

Stephanie Singer, Communications

It’s another day in Anissa’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. School is out for the summer, and the kids are home. The phone rings, and Anissa picks it up. It’s a call from Mercy Medical Angels, requesting an interview to include in the newsletter.

There’s noise on Anissa’s end of the phone. Her two energetic sons are running around. “I’m on the phone,” she admonishes. It’squiet for a few minutes.  That gives Anissa a chance to tell her story.


Anissa was a business professor. In 2007, she married and soon after became pregnant.  “I was out of breath, like an athlete,” Anissa said, “except I wasn’t an athlete.” She suspected something was up.

When she went in for routine blood work, the results came back with a grim diagnosis: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. She also was diagnosed with a potentially fatal liver disease. “I never knew I had it,” said Anissa.

Because of her conditions, Anissa had to quit teaching. Since then, she’s been out of work. She needed a heart and liver transplant. “It’s like tasting death every time you need a major organ.”

The doctors in Tennessee were unable to help Anissa. “The doctors were only treating my condition, not curing it.” Her best option was to go to the specialists at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic is over 700 miles away from her home. She couldn’t afford to travel such a long distance.

One day, Anissa looked on the Internet for help. That’s when she found Mercy Medical Angels. Mercy Medical Angels provides free transportation to medical care for patients who can’t afford the costs of travel. The charity paid for airline tickets so Anissa could travel to Mayo Clinic.

In 2013, Anissa received two life-saving transplants: a new heart and a new liver. Anissa is now recovering. One of the main reasons she stays strong is her family, especially her two sons.


The sounds of laughing and calls for attention suddenly crescendo. Her sons are back at it. “I said, I’m on the phone,” Anissa repeats firmly. The caller from Mercy Medical Angels thinks it might be a good idea to end the interview soon. Anissa agrees. The last question of the interview: “How has Mercy Medical Angels impacted your life?”

There’s another quiet moment. “Things were looking down for a while,” Anissa says with a slightly dejected tone. Then she sounds much more hopeful: “Now, things are finally starting to look up.”