Stefani and Trevan Thompson's wedding reception was like many others. There was the couple's first dance and the traditional father-daughter dance, which featured a cut-in from the bride's grandfather. And then there was the doctor-patient dance. Or, in this case, the doctor-doctor-doctor-doctor-patient dance — where the bride busts a move with the people who helped save her life 17 years earlier.
The sweet story behind that dance starts when the bride was just 8 years old. She'd come to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus after a virus damaged her heart, and for a time, it looked like she might not survive. But one September day back in 1999, a heart transplant restored Stefani to life. In the years since, she's achieved milestone after milestone, from attending prom (where she had another memorable dance with one of her doctors) to graduating from college and becoming a pediatric nurse herself.
While her parents have no doubt been the proudest observers of these milestones, another group has been cheering her on as well: the Mayo Clinic doctors, nurses and other staff who have grown close to Stefani and her family over the years. Because of the transplant, Stefani and her family have returned to Mayo at least once a year for checkups. And when she needed a second transplant after anti-rejection medications took a toll on her kidneys, the family again turned to Mayo.
So when it came time to send out wedding invitations, the guest list included cardiac surgeons Joseph Dearani, M.D., and Richard Daly, M.D., and cardiologists Martha Grogan, M.D., and Michael Ackerman, M.D., Ph.D. Stefani tells us she hardly dared hope any of them would make the long trip to Michigan for the wedding. But on her wedding day, as she said her "I dos" on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, all four doctors were in attendance. "It was amazing to have them witness my life that is able to go on because of their help," she says. "I feel so spoiled that they came. How did I get to be so lucky?"
But if you ask Stefani's doctors, they'll tell you they're the lucky ones. "We celebrate our patients' ups and downs, but it was a very unique experience to actually be there for a moment like this," Dr. Grogan says, adding that it felt almost as though her own daughter was getting married. "I was not going to miss that wedding. It was an honor to be invited and so amazing to be able to be there."
"I suspect that we all felt love-bound (not duty-bound) to be there," says Dr. Ackerman, who calls the wedding "one of those incredibly special moments in all of our careers."
Which brings us back to another special moment: the one on the dance floor. No one can quite remember who requested the song, but everyone agrees it was the perfect choice. While Robert Palmer sang "Doctor, doctor, give me the news," and the guests clapped and cheered, each physician took a turn dancing with Stefani. While Dr. Ackerman says his moves may not have been perfect, for him the dance "was a few minutes of pure bliss where EVERYTHING was right and beautiful in the world." Near the end of the song, all five joined hands and danced together in a circle, celebrating not just a marriage, but a life.
Shake your groove thing as you leave a comment below. You can use the social media tools to share this story with others.