This might be your only chance" - couple married on UK COVID ward tells the story
With their lives hanging in the balance, nurses at the Milton Keynes University Hospital had a proposition for COVID patients Elizabeth Kerr and fiance Simon O'Brien - did they want to get married on the ward while they still had the chance?
"This might be your only chance. Those are words I never, ever want hear again," Kerr told Reuters in a COVID ward in the hospital, clutching her husband's hand.
Four hours later the two critically ill patients were married in intensive care.
Kerr and O'Brien were rushed to Milton Keynes University Hospital in the same ambulance on Saturday Jan. 10, days after testing positive for COVID-19.
The oxygen levels of both had fallen critically low.
Placed on separate wards full of COVID patients, Kerr, a 31-year-old nurse at nearby Buckingham hospital, told medics the couple had planned to tie the knot in June.
Rapid response nurse Hannah Cannon asked her if she wanted to marry 36-year-old O'Brien, a private ambulance driver, in the hospital. Kerr recalled she was told it could be her only chance.
As staff across the hospital scrambled to secure a licence, O'Brien's health deteriorated and doctors decided to move him to intensive care, reserved for the very sickest patients.
With mortality rates now as high as 80% in the ICU, a happy ending was against the odds.
Cannon was a witness and documented the ceremony for the couple's family and friends.
They were married at 5.30pm on Jan. 15, three days after arriving at the hospital, with a cake provided by the catering department.
Moments after saying "I do", O'Brien was sedated and spent the night on mechanical ventilation in ICU.
His condition improved and the married couple reunited on a COVID-19 ward, where both are still receiving oxygen, having to wait a few days before their first kiss as husband and wife.
Kerr said the terrifying experience of fighting for every breathe had made clear to her what really mattered: the people you love.
"We've got a wedding story that can trump anybody's," Kerr added.