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Milwaukee judge recalls battle with COVID-19, friendship with nurse that saved his life

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Posted at 10:54 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 12:47:44-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Municipal Judge Derek Mosley is a beloved leader in the city.

We were with him four years ago after he received a life-saving kidney transplant, from a friend and fellow judge. Now, Mosley is sharing his near-death battle with COVID-19.

Mosley and his new life-long friend, Froedtert Nurse Christin Lissman, saw each other for the first time since Mosley was released from the hospital.

"It's so good to see you without all your garb on," said Mosley to Lissmann over a Zoom video conference.

"Really [good] to see you and know that you're home," said Lissmann. "I remember when I walked in your room, I put [a] stethoscope on you and I listen, and a very telling sign is when one doesn't really hear the sound of air moving at all, and I couldn't hardly hear it on you."

It's emotional for Mosley to think back on his time in the ICU, especially one night in particular.

Mosley was in isolation, forced to lay on his stomach with his head up to help open his lungs.

"I'm in the bed and the doctor is talking to me, we're on the phone talking, he's telling me that I'm at this weird stage where I can either get better and things are good, or this is the stage where they see people just bottom out, and they don't know why, but that's what happens," recalls Mosley.

"His case was very delicate," said Lissmann. "He has a history of a kidney transplant. He's highly susceptible to developing infections. There was a strong possibility that when the sun rose that he was going to be on a ventilator."

"I got real scared," said Mosley. "And I’m telling you it was almost like clockwork, the door opens and Christin’s like I got someone I want you to talk to, and I’m like what is she talking about and then puts the iPad up and it’s my wife and my two daughters. We laughed, we cried. It meant a lot to me, because honestly, at that point, I wasn't sure if I was going to ever see them again."


Lissmann knew it would be the best medicine in the world.

"It was really moving when his family was on the phone and I had never seen any of my patient's children on an iPad video before," said Lissmann. "His daughters came on the screen, these beautiful girls, you know, 'hey dad,' and he’s on his stomach looking straight up at the head of the bed. He was just so brave, you would have never have known the gravity of what he was going through, because he was showing his little girls daddy was coming home. It was just so beautiful. I cried."

After that call, Lissmann had to check on others and Mosley was alone again, the tears and feeling of hopelessness creeping back in.

"I hear this chair kind of slide up next to me," recalls Mosley. "And someone...someone grabs my hand, and it was just right on time because I was at my darkest moment right there. And she came at the right time and said 'you’re not alone. I’m going to be here with you and we’re going to get through this together.' Just hearing those words and that hope it gave me hope."

Just like that, two strangers became family, forming a bond, that Mosley says saved his life.

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