The Alfred’s ICU staff were honoured to help fulfil patient Toni Carroll’s dream of getting married to her partner and father of her two children, Jesse Welsh.
One of Toni’s doctors, Intensivist Dashiell Gantner, said it was a special day to watch Toni and Jesse say their vows in the hospital's chapel, especially given her critical condition.
“Toni was referred to The Alfred from another hospital for treatment of rapidly progressive and potentially fatal heart failure,” said Dr Gantner.
It’s not clear why Toni’s heart is failing, but it’s not her only battle; she was also diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. The 25-year-old had just given birth to her second daughter last December when doctors gave her the news.
At The Alfred, Toni’s life was saved using a heart-lung bypass machine called ECMO, along with a heart pump (VAD). The team are continuing to manage both her heart condition and the need for chemotherapy treatment.
The wedding was a success, with both of Toni and Jesse’s children present along with other family.
“It’s so beautiful, honesty I thought it was going to be small and then it exploded with all this love from everyone, it was perfect, I loved it,” said Toni.
Jesse said it was the most important day of his life.
“From where we started five weeks ago, I was told I’d only have five to ten days with her, now we are married and I can’t ask for anything more,” he said.
Patient Experience Nurse Paul Leonard and ICU Nurse Mary Fox were two of the many wedding planners.
“We sent an email to all ICU staff asking who wanted to get involved, and we got an overwhelming response,” said Paul.
Within three days, staff organised everything from home-made cakes, a hair and makeup artist, flowers, decorations for the reception (seminar) room and Toni’s cubical, among many tasks in preparation for the big day.
Nurse and ECMO specialist Jayne Sheldrake oversaw the logistics of moving Toni to The Alfred’s chapel safely.
“There was a large group of people looking after her medical and nursing needs, we had a ‘plan B’ if something changed and we had to stop and come back”, said Jayne.
“Everybody got involved, the team was creative and organised, and we worked together well. Everyone wanted to make the day special for them.”
Toni and Jesse would like to thank everyone involved in the planning of their wedding.
They’ve also received support from the community, including from Jesse’s employer Driveco group.
“And Boo Boo’s Café raised over $700 for baby supplies,” said Toni. “People, strangers, can be so generous."