Although Rubia Ferreira and Tyler Campbell planned to marry each other in the city they met, Okinawa, Japan, after welcoming their first child, who was due in February 2018, a series of unexpected events changed the couple's plans. In November 2017, the pair were visiting Campbell's family in Alabama when Ferreira began experiencing abdominal pain at 24 weeks pregnant. She was rushed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital, where she was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome — "a series of symptoms that affect pregnant women, including the breakdown of red blood cells and elevated liver enzymes" — and rushed into an emergency C-section surgery to save her and her baby's lives.
Ferreira pulled through the surgery, as did her and Campbell's first child, a daughter they named Kaelin Maria. Since her early birth in November, Kaelin has been a resident in UAB's NICU, where her mom and dad did some talking and realized they were having second thoughts about their wedding — they decided that maybe, instead of getting married in Japan as planned, they'd tie the knot a bit earlier, right in Kaelin's hospital room. And the entire team at UAB stepped right up to make that happen.
"We had never had a wedding of this size and scale in the RNICU, but everyone was willing to do whatever it would take to make it a reality," said Sandra Milstead, RN, BSN, family nurse liaison in UAB's Women and Infants Center. "So many people at UAB had formed relationships with Tyler and Rubia, and we all wanted to make sure that, although taking place in a hospital, this was the wedding of their dreams. That's what they deserved."
So on Feb. 14, after two weeks of planning, Ferreira and Campbell were married in the NICU next to their daughter's crib. Ferreira walked down the aisle — aka the hospital hallway — with Kaelin's neonatologist, Waldemar Carlo, MD, director of UAB's Division of Neonatology, and a wedding cake and other refreshments were supplied by university catering. The makeshift hospital ceremony left not a dry eye in the house, and the couple couldn't be more thrilled.
"UAB has helped save not only my life, but my daughter's as well, and it meant the world to share this milestone with our new family here," Ferreira told UAB News. Campbell added, "We want Kaelin to look back at pictures from our wedding and know about our experience as a family at UAB. We hope she understands how much we cared for and loved her, and that it meant the world to us to have our wedding take place right there with her."