The wedding of David Hall and Kizzie Priestly was supposed to take place last Sunday, November 5. Instead, Kizzie, who was battling Stage 4 cancer, was admitted to Trident Medical Center in Charleston, S.C. Thanks to the community and quick-acting caregivers at the HCA Healthcare affiliate hospital, David and Kizzie fulfilled their wish to become husband and wife, just two days before she passed away.
“I admitted this patient four days ago, knowing that she was terminal,” Temisan Etikerenste, MD, said in an e-mail to hospital CEO Todd Gallati on last Thursday, the night of the wedding. “The first wish her fiancée asked, was if she could be discharged before Sunday since the wedding was planned. I was pleasantly surprised when I came to discharge her yesterday and she told me that the hospital had decided to arrange the wedding today.”
“In my 15 years on staff, I have never been as proud to be affiliated with Trident as I was this evening,” added Dr. Etikersente, a general internist who treated Kizzie.
With help from the wedding party, Trident Medical Center staff decorated the hospital’s cafeteria, while the food and nutrition team catered the ceremony. Family as far as California were able to witness the wedding courtesy of the hospital’s Information Technology and Services (IT&S) unit who provided a large monitor and tech support and radiology gave Kizzie’s wheelchair a makeover fit for a bride. Trident environmental services team made sure the area remained clean and inviting for guests, while respiratory therapists remained by Kizzie’s side with oxygen before, during and after the wedding.
Dr. Etikersente, who attended the ceremony, said: “It was packed, well decorated, staff well represented…it was beautiful and something I will never forget.”
The couple, whose work with children – Kizzie’s with special needs and David’s with orphan relief – brought them together, were happily married in front of 200 friends, family, and hospital staff.
Friends and businesses who knew of Kizzie’s health paid the expenses for their original wedding and an anniversary trip to Disneyworld. But, once her condition worsened her doctors at Trident Medical Center advised her not to travel.
Friend Kristin Power told local ABC News, “When we realized we needed to move up the wedding, Trident was a huge support in making that happen. From start to finish this has been a huge community effort,” she said. “One that has brought so many people from all walks of life together in unity. Kizzie and David have always had the ability to bring people together.”
Kizzie passed away peacefully Saturday, “surrounded by family and wrapped in love,” according to a Facebook post from her husband David.
“The outpouring of love and prayers from throughout the nation has meant the world to us and we know that our special day would not have happened without the support of so many and the leadership of our Almighty God,” he said, in part, on Facebook. “Our next focus is making sure the celebration of Kizzie’s life matches the level of faith, class, kindness, and joy that she lived her life with every single day.”
Trident Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer Lynn Singleton said it has been overwhelming knowing their staff made Kizzie and David’s dream come true.
“It was a privilege for our Trident family to play a small part in celebrating this family’s wedding and their joy,” she said. “They have been a blessing to us. Our prayers are with them and all of their loved ones during this difficult time.”
Watch David and Kizzie’s special day on the ABC News Facebook page here.
(HCA internal audience can view the video here. )