INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – For the first time in history, Riley Hospital for Children hosted a wedding that featured a very special maid of honor.
23-year-old Danielle Jones knew she wanted her sister Gabby to be a part of her wedding one day.
Gabby has been fighting blood cancer at Riley Hospital.
Danielle and her boyfriend David had been dating for three years, but when she found out Gabby contracted a rare infection that made her body too weak to fight, she knew they needed to act fast. So, David quickly proposed to Danielle in her living room. They then raced to the mall to get a ring and dress. 48 hours later, on Sunday, the staff at Riley Hospital sprang into action to host the wedding.
“I just want my sister there, I want her to be my maid of honor,” Danielle told one of Gabby’s doctors. “We consider one another best friends.”
The nurses hung a garland from the doorway, near a makeshift altar, and turned the playroom into a reception area. Fake rose petals were brought in since real flowers were not allowed in Gabby’s room.
“I have an amazing staff that knows what to do,” said Joni Vaughan, the Riley nurse who oversees Gabby’s unit, the stem cell transplant unit.
Gabby was too sick to get out of bed, so Danielle pinned her maid of honor dress to her hospital gown.
“We were just expecting the ceremony to be in her room at her bedside,” said Danielle. “Joni said absolutely not. I want you to walk down the aisle with your dad.”
Danielle walked down the aisle with her father as Gabby watched from her bed.
During the ceremony, for the first time in a long time, Gabby showed emotion. She began to cry and gave Danielle a thumbs-up – the special signal they used to say, “Everything is OK.”
Gabby has been transferred to a hospital in Fort Wayne, closer to the family’s home. Danielle says the family is still holding out hope for a “miracle.” But for now, they are cherishing the time they have left with Gabby.
“Everyone said, ‘Who would want to get married in a hospital,’ and I said, ‘Who wouldn’t want to have their sister there?’ She was there, it was perfect and I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Gabby said.