Sweethearts Tie the Knot Days Before Heart Transplant
The couple first met in kindergarten and reunited at their 15-year middle school reunion. It wasn’t long before they knew they’d be together forever. Jim and Denise had a courthouse wedding in 1988, but always wanted to get married with a Catholic Priest officiating. After receiving the news that he would need a transplant, Jim knew it was the perfect time.
So wedding bells rang…
Prior to receiving a heart transplant in mid-January, the couple was married in Jim’s room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. While the setting may have been unusual, the celebration was every bit as joyous as they had hoped. Raquel Callanto, Jim’s nurse, took it upon herself to decorate for the occasion and purchased flowers so Denise could walk down the “aisle” with a bouquet. She also played the role of photographer at the ceremony.
“I think this made Jim and Denise very happy,” said Raquel Callanto, RN, Coronary Care Unit at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “I was thrilled to play a part in their wedding and to help make their day extra special.”
The wedding took place just days before Jim received his heart, and now the happy couple is moving forward. Jim is on the treadmill for 20 minutes three times a day, slowly getting back to work and enjoying the little things in life.
“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for the care and compassion I received at Northwestern,” said Jim. “I don’t want to be known as a transplant patient. I want to be Jim Callahan and get back to my life. Everyone at Northwestern helped me do that and played a big role in pulling off our wedding.”
Jim is grateful to have a new heart and to enjoy another Valentine’s Day with Denise.