A poorly five-year-old passed away just days after his devoted parents granted his dying wish to tie the knot with a wedding ceremony at his hospital bedside.
Brave Corey Edwards was born with a complex congenital heart defect and endured eight traumatic open heart surgeries in a bid to save his life.
Corey’s biggest wish was to see his parents Jemma, 21, and Craig, 28, get married, but despite getting engaged three years ago, his ill health put their plans on hold.
But his condition has been deteriorating since he was admitted to hospital in January with a cold, and his parents were warned he could have just days to live.
So with the help of staff at Bristol Children’s Hospital they tied the knot at his bedside on Saturday, with the brave lad holding the wedding rings.
Sadly the little fighter passed away on Thursday night, just five days after the ceremony.
Speaking just after the ceremony, proud dad-of-three Craig, from Teignmouth, Devon, 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.”
“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.
“When we knew Corey’s wishes, everyone on PICU and Ward 32, including staff and friends, got together to help us.
“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.”
Little Corey was diagnosed with a complex congenital heart defect when he was seven months old and has had eight open-heart surgeries as well as other treatments.
Staff from the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the cardiac ward at Bristol Children’s Hospital have grown close to the family during numerous hospital stays.
Jemma and Craig, a council road sweeper, got engaged three years ago, but due to Corey’s health, and the birth of his sisters Isabelle, two, and Caitlyn, six months, they didn’t get round to getting married.
But when they were told his health had taken a turn for the worse and he might pass away in hospital, staff rallied round to help make Corey’s wish come true.
Proud Jemma, a full-time mum and carer, said: “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, Stephen Oram, who was very excited to be sharing this occasion with us.”
The newlyweds spent their wedding night at their son’s bedside and later returned to the nearby Ronald McDonald House.
Speaking before Corey passed away, William Booth, matron for PICU, said it was a privilege to share the special day with Corey’s family.
He added: “The whole hospital was abuzz with excitement.
“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.”