“[My pillow] made me feel like they actually cared about me.”

Imagine needing open heart surgery in your early 30s. Ashley Serna learned several years ago that she had a hole in her heart. It was a birth defect no one had found until then.


Ashley was struggling. She had chest pains and shortness of breath, but no one could figure out what was wrong. One doctor thought it was the flu; another thought it must be an infection and prescribed antibiotics.

No one thought to look at her heart until she went to work for a cardiologist. He found she had a hole likely there since birth that was causing her symptoms. She needed to get it fixed.

The solution

Most cardiologists will say open heart surgery in your early 30s is easier than it is for someone in their 60s or 70s. Most patients will tell you when surgeons crack your sternum open, it hurts regardless of your age.

After Ashley came out of open heart surgery, her care team gave her the Shumsky Therapeutic Heart Pillow. She found it to be a lifesaver. The combination of firm support and soft comfort helped her diminish some pain.

For six months after surgery, Ashley lived with her therapeutic pillow by her side. She found it easier to cough, laugh, and lay down when she used its support. In fact, Ashley still uses her therapeutic pillow to sleep today because she needs an extra bit of support for her sternum.

Her advice to others

“I would make [this pillow] your best friend. Don’t think it’s an ordinary pillow.”

If Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute had not given her the Shumsky Therapeutic Pillow, Ashley said she would buy her own two or three pillows. Her biggest fear is that her pillow will wear out one day.

When she lies on her side, she puts the therapeutic pillow under her chest and the pressure helps her sleep.

“Having that pressure works miracles,” she said.

Take-away message

Ashley said it meant the world to her when her surgeon and care teams signed her pillow and wrote messages of encouragement. Because they made it personal, she said:

“It made me feel like they actually cared about me instead of they were just doing their job.”

Ashley’s advice to healthcare providers who don’t offer Shumsky Therapeutic Pillows to their patients:

“They’re making their patients miss out on comfort.”

Are you taking advantage of this opportunity to provide a higher measure of comfort and care to your patients? Shumsky Therapeutic Pillows are an inexpensive, easy-to-customize gift you can give to ease your patients’ recovery. And one that keeps your practice, hospital, or clinic first in mind.

Join our community of 1,000 hospitals who use Shumsky Therapeutic Pillows today.