Andrea’s story

Photo of Andrea Clegg and a St. Mary's physical therapistAndrea Clegg’s wedding night won’t soon be forgotten, by either her and husband Shaun, or the staff and physicians of St. Mary’s General Hospital Emergency Department.

The 26-year-old Cambridge woman with a severe heart condition arrived by ambulance on the evening of May 30, 2009 in her beautiful, flowing wedding dress. An implantable cardiac defibrillator in her chest had fired three times, knocking her to the ground as she delivered a speech at her wedding dinner in Kitchener. 

The couple’s family and guests were terrified. 

“In the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s, everyone’s hearts ached for the pair,” recalls Wendy McLean, a Communications Clerk at the Hospital. “We thought how awful for you to have this happen on your wedding night,” she says. 

“In the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s, everyone’s hearts ached for the pair,” recalls Wendy McLean, a Communications Clerk at the Hospital. “We thought how awful for you to have this happen on your wedding night,” she says. 

Nurses quickly but carefully removed Andrea’s wedding gown so she could be assessed.

McLean and fellow clerk Fatima Mohammed decided to salvage what they could of the couple’s wedding night. They took up a collection from staff and physicians. 

The pair dashed out to buy a cake, personalized with the couple’s names. They bought alcohol-free champagne and a dozen pink roses. 

When the gifts were wheeled into Andrea’s room, “she cried and most of us cried,” says McLean. 

“It was very touching.” Tears soon turned to laughter as the bride tossed a rose to the unmarried nurses. 

“It was perfect,” Andrea recalls. “I was shocked that they would be so kind.”

Andrea was admitted and the medical team determined that her ICD had fired inappropriately. 

Following her release, the couple resumed the wedding festivities at an “After Shock” party, with Andrea back in her wedding dress. 

This time she pre-taped her speech, delivering it by video.

Post-script – at the time, our staff didn’t know that Andrea’s heart condition was so severe that she was on the Ontario transplant list. After months of follow-up care and support at St. Mary’s, Andrea got the best Christmas present ever in 2010, when she received a new heart on December 21st. She is doing well today and continues to have her follow-up care at St. Mary’s, where she’s also found the time to volunteer her time.

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