Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor
The parents of a terminally ill boy have fulfilled his dying wish by getting married at his bedside in hospital.
Corey Edwards, from Teignmouth, Devon more than anything wanted to see his parents Craig, 28, and Jemma, 21, tie the knot.
Sadly Corey died just five days after his mother and father got married, passing away at Bristol Children’s Hospital on Wednesday evening.
The five-year-old was diagnosed with a complex congenital heart defect at the age of seven months and since then has undergone eight open-heart operations and other treatments.
Corey has been on the paediatric intensive care unit at Bristol Children’s Hospital since January and when doctors gave his parents the devastating news that he may not live much longer, Mr and Mrs Edwards decided to get married.
They had been engaged for three years but plans to tie the knot were put on hold due to the birth of their daughters, two-year-old Isabelle and six-month-old Caitlyn, and Corey’s ill health.
When they learnt of their son’s wish, they felt there was no time like the present and, with the help of staff and friends made at the hospital, they were able to organise the whole service within 48 hours.
They made history when they became the first couple to marry at the hospital but had to get special permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The law allows couples to marry in hospital if one of them is desperately ill and that did not apply in this case.
But a law dating back to Henry VIII gives the Archbishop of Canterbury special dispensation to allow weddings in hospital for “pastoral reasons”.
Speaking before his son’s death, Mr Edwards, a council worker, said: “A couple of weeks ago we were told they didn’t think he would go home. We keep hoping that he will but it just looks less likely each day.
“When we knew Corey’s wishes, everyone on the paediatric intensive care unit and Ward 32, including staff and friends, got together to help us.
“We both planned to get married years ago but decided we wouldn’t get married without Corey there, so the only way we could do it was in hospital.
“He’s asked quite a few times why we are not married, so we thought we would make it a special day and cheer him up a bit.
“The Bishop of Bristol had to write to the Archbishop of Canterbury to get special permission for us to marry in the hospital and we are so grateful he agreed.
“When we got the go-ahead, we only had a matter of days to plan. We rushed into town to buy a dress and suit and made do with our engagement rings as wedding rings.
“We couldn’t believe the generosity of all those involved. One nurse helped to do Jemma’s hair, whilst another two members of staff made the cake and iced it.
“Chairs were pulled together to form an aisle and decorations were put up to make it feel like a wedding venue.
“We were married by the hospital’s chaplain, Rev Stephen Oram, who was very excited to be sharing this occasion with us.
“However, the most important thing for us was having our son Corey at our side, holding the rings and wearing his suit.
“We couldn’t have been more proud of him. We were also incredibly lucky to have our daughters there and the support of so many.”
Mr Edwards added: “It turned into a really, really amazing day and Corey was so proud. He looked very handsome. I think he really enjoyed it, which was the main thing.
“Getting married is usually the bride and groom’s special day, which it was, but it’s more Corey’s special day because he is such a special boy.
“It was nice to share our special day with the people who have helped us enjoy Corey’s short life. It has got to the point where there isn’t more they can do now, which is obviously very hard.
“Instead of being at his bedside crying the whole time at least on that one day we had a real special day. We know he was happy that day.
“When he’s home and well you wouldn’t know he is a cardiac patient. He’s happy, running around and loves to play.”
William Booth, the paediatric intensive care unit matron, said: “It was a privilege to share Craig and Jemma’s special day with their children Corey, Isabelle and Caitlyn, family and friends.
“The whole hospital was abuzz with excitement and one of the nurses made and iced a cake, others brought in flowers and gifts for the newlyweds.
“Lots of the nursing and medical teams involved in Corey’s care came in over the Easter break to share this special occasion with them all.”
Rev Oram said: “Henry VIII gave the then Archbishop of Canterbury this special power to by-pass the law.
“It was that ancient law from several hundred years ago that was enacted allowing Mr and Mrs Edwards to get married. It meant a little bit of paperwork to fill out but we were able to get that done in 48 hours.
“It was very emotional and it was emotional for many reasons. The family and the ward knew how special this was for them and it was fulfilling the wish of a dying child.
“It was also emotional because we knew the outcome for poor Corey isn’t going to be a good outcome and everyone was just aware of the specialness of the day for Mr and Mrs Edwards and Corey.”
The newlyweds spent their wedding night at their son’s bedside and later returned to the Ronald McDonald House where they were staying while Corey was in hospital.
Mr Edwards said: “It may not have been the day we had initially planned in our heads but it didn’t matter to us.
“To have our son there meant more than anything and it will be a day we will never forget. We can’t thank the staff enough for what they have done for us and Corey and we would like them to know how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication.”
A spokeswoman for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is with great sadness that Corey did pass away earlier this evening.
“Even under these very circumstances, Jemma and Craig did want to speak about their experience. The family were passionate about everyone knowing how special their little boy was.
“Our thoughts are with Corey’s parents and his family.”
Published: Friday 10th April 2015 by The News Editor