• Susan, right, and Don Gregory exchange wedding vows during a ceremony at Texas Health Huguley Hospital's ICU unit. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESS
  • Texas Health Huguley Hospital employees celebrate the marriage of Susan and Don Gregory, a first for the ICU unit staff. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESS
  • Texas Health Huguley Hospital employees celebrate by blowing bubbles toward Don Gregory, who married Susan, despite being in the hospital's ICU unit. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESS

Couple married in hospital ICU

The average couple spends more than a year planning a wedding. Susan and Don Gregory did it in a matter of days.

A chance meeting in an online chartroom led to the beginning of a relationship 13 years ago. The couple had been waiting on a day where Don could be off work to go to the courthouse to complete paperwork, but then he was checked into the intensive care unit at Texas Health Huguley Hospital.

“He got very ill suddenly,” Susan said. “This was someone who was previously very healthy and every organ in his body was affected.”

Susan turned to an old friend, Rev. Jerry Patton, to perform a wedding, until Erick Clein, manager of the ICU at Huguley got involved.

“One of my staff members came into my office and asked me if I knew that one of our patients was going to be getting married," he said. "From there, my brain just started turning and wondering what we could do from a hospital standpoint – from a nurses standpoint – to make it cool for them."

Staff went to work and converted Gregory's ICU room into a wedding hall, with decorations and a cake.

“My staff is great. They just jumped all over it and wanted to do everything they could do for them," Clein said.

Nursing staff hung signs with medical tape, decorate the cake using medical gloves and used earrings as wedding rings, because of the short notice.

The invitational list included family and hospital staff, including Mandy Gregory, the daughter of the groom.

“In the beginning so much was going on, it was one [piece of] bad news after another,” Mandy said. “They were going to get married before, and now it’s even more important. She loves him, he loves her and I think it’s a great thing.”

Many joined Susan in the wedding march to the ICU room, which had been converted into a wedding chapel.

“The staff has been a tremendous help,” Susan said. “I saw one nurse that told me she had the day off. She came up on her day off.”

Within the final week leading to the wedding, Don had begun to progress in his medical treatment. He was scheduled to move out of ICU in the days following the wedding.

“He’s made tremendous progress,” said Lindsey Malone, one of Don’s nurses. “It’s quite exciting to see him get out of bed and get ready for the wedding.”

Don expressed his surprise with a wedding in his room.

“What happened here was a bunch of good people came together to help me out,” Don said. “Words can’t express how it feels.”

It led Don to call Susan his 'wifey' and nurses blew bubbles in celebration.

“I thought I was going to be spending the rest of my life without him,” Susan said. “And now it’s with him.”

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Susan, right, and Don Gregory exchange wedding vows during a ceremony at Texas Health Huguley Hospital's ICU unit. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESSTexas Health Huguley Hospital employees celebrate the marriage of Susan and Don Gregory, a first for the ICU unit staff. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESSTexas Health Huguley Hospital employees celebrate by blowing bubbles toward Don Gregory, who married Susan, despite being in the hospital's ICU unit. | Burleson Star/REBECCA ANDRESS