Transplant survivor Tara Smith has renewed her marriage vows in a full ceremony – two years after a ‘death-bed wedding’ when she had just a 50 per cent chance of living.
Tara, 40, had cystic fibrosis and was told her chance of surviving for the next two years were just 1 in 2 without a double lung transplant.
She decided to marry husband Graham, 47, after eight years together while they still had time.
They had a small ceremony in June 2013 with just six people because Tara didn’t know until the morning of the day if she would be well enough to go to the church.
She struggled to walk down the small aisle hooked up to her IV drip and oxygen pack.
Four months later she was told that a donor had been found and underwent the six-hour transplant at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex.
Since then she has made a full recovery and celebrated by renewing her wedding vows – this time in front of 250 friends and family at St Mildred’s Church in Tenterden, Kent.
Tara wore the same white wedding dress from the hurried ceremony two years ago and Graham put on his suit.
Tara, who is about the start a job as a parish administrator at the same church, said she felt “very lucky” to have been a bride twice.
She said: “We went from one extreme to the other with such a small wedding and a huge blessing.
“I was so ill when we got married the first time – I couldn’t walk up the stairs on my own. I was getting to the point where I just felt my body was shutting down.
“The hospital said ‘it’s getting really quite serious now’. When the hospital says that you know you’re in trouble.
“Our first wedding day was lovely but it was so small and I had to sit down the whole time. I managed to walk down the aisle but that was a struggle.
“But at our second wedding I literally danced all night. It was just an amazing day.
“It was so emotional, to think it was a day that I could easily have not been here for was quite scary. I am really very lucky.”
Chartered surveyor Graham, who has three children from a previous marriage, said: “It was a fantastic day and exceeded all our hopes.
“During the service, Canon Lindsay Hammond gave a resume of Tara’s history and it was all so moving.
“We had some hymns and readings this time, whereas we did not have much before, and it was lovely because the church was pretty full.”
Recalling Tara’s operation, Graham said: “Towards the last hour I just had to sit in this dark room by myself I wouldn’t let anyone near me.
“It was absolutely terrifying. I heard the surgeon come out saying ‘I need to speak to the husband,’ he led me into the lovely room and he just sat down and let out this big sigh.
“I didn’t know what he was going to say and he just said ‘it went really well you can go and see her now,’ I didn’t know whether to hit him or to hug him.”
Tara, from Tenterden, Kent now does fitness classes three times a week and last year climbed Snowdon with Graham to raise nearly £10,000 for Harefield Hospital.
She urged people to join the organ donor register and added: “It’s the last thing you can do in your life and it is so important.
“It has literally changed my life. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.”