Getting the right care, at the right time is important during life-threatening emergencies

The connection between care teams at Ascension Wisconsin saved Tay’s life.

Shartavia (Tay), 36, woke up one morning unable to move her legs. Unsure of the severity of her situation, she had her 15-year-old daughter bring her acetaminophen and something to drink, hoping this would help. Tay began feeling nauseated and tried to make her way to the bathroom, still struggling to move her legs. 

Taking a moment to assess the situation, Tay felt a lump on the right side of her torso. She called her boyfriend to help her get dressed and to take her to urgent care. As she was fading in and out of consciousness, she arrived at urgent care where she was immediately examined. In Tay’s current state, she needed to be rushed to the emergency department at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital - Elmbrook Campus. Once she arrived at the ER, a CT scan showed that Tay was experiencing an active liver hemorrhage, caused by a mass in her liver.

Tay was immediately transported to Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee where surgical oncologist Atuhani Burnett, MD, was already preparing for her emergency surgery. While in the ambulance, Tay underwent a blood transfusion and received IV medication. When she arrived at the operating room, Tay was approached by a nurse that was helping her to stay calm. 

Tay, who was able to stay positive during this time, joked with the care team about not wanting any abdomen scarring since she’s “still in her crop top stage.” It was then that Dr. Burnett reminded Tay of the severity of her situation and that this surgery was going to save her life — “but we would do what we could about the crop top situation,” Dr. Burnett said in good humor.

In order to save Tay’s life, the care teams at Ascension Wisconsin had to work together quickly and efficiently. When Tay arrived, the ambulance driver wheeled her stretcher right into the operating room. The team in the OR worked quickly — providing anesthesia to put her to sleep, and getting her prepped and ready for surgery in less than 10 minutes. 

“It is a testament to the hard work the team put in doing controlled elective liver surgery for the last year that things ran so smoothly.  While the case was challenging, the tumor and approximately 30% of Tay’s liver were removed quickly and the bleeding was stopped,” Dr. Burnett recalled.

The next thing Tay recalled was waking up and beginning her recovery process. When looking back at her time spent in the hospital, she recalled, “Overall, my care was great.”

After six days in the hospital, she was able to return home to her daughter and begin to get back to the things she enjoyed most. She was most excited to start wearing her regular clothes again, even with her scar from surgery. “The scar is the reason why I’m still alive,” Tay shared.

When Tay comes to Dr. Burnett’s office for follow-up care, he notices that she always comes with a smile and a healthy appreciation for life.

When thinking back to that day, Tay wanted to emphasize the importance of getting the right care you need and advocating for yourself. “If you have a situation like mine, skip urgent care and get straight to the emergency room,” she stated. 

The connection of our care teams is what allowed the emergency department to assess Tay and get her to our surgical oncology team as quickly as possible. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or dial 911.

Emergency care teams at Ascension Wisconsin sites of care are here 24/7 for life-threatening and severe illness and injury. When it’s not an emergency, but you still need to be seen right away, you’ll get the same level of compassionate care in our urgent and express care clinics or during a doctor’s visit in-person or online.