Couple's baby boy was too unwell to leave hospital for their wedding - so staff planned special surprise

By Josie Le Vay

A couple's wedding took place without their baby son because he was too unwell to leave hospital - but a surprise organised by staff on Bolton's neonatal unit made up for it.

Alex and Frances Smith’s son Joseph had been a patient on the neonatal unit for more than 150 days and was not well enough to travel.

Following the ceremony in June the couple were called by Patricia Lindley, Senior Neonatal Nurse, and asked to visit their son that afternoon.

Neonatal staff dressed baby Joseph Smith in a wedding outfit and decorated his cot with balloons and a homemade banner (Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

The newlyweds had been disappointed Joseph would be unable to make their day, which had been postponed multiple times due to Covid-19.

Patricia said: “We dressed Joseph with a wedding outfit, decorated the cot with balloons and homemade banner with their names and date of the wedding.

“We also gifted the newlyweds with a card which had Joseph’s hand prints in it and a wedding book from the whole of neonatal unit.

“Alex and Frances didn’t expect it at all. They were really emotional and extremely grateful for the surprise.”

Staff at the hospital dressed up baby Joseph for his parents' special day (Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

Joseph has now been discharged and is at home with the happy couple.

The newlyweds said: “It was an absolute rollercoaster of emotions on the neonatal unit due to the balancing act that is keeping these fragile babies alive.

"But we met some lovely staff who, despite their immense workload, showed genuine care and compassion for Joseph and for our situation.

“We are grateful that they took the time to celebrate life events and milestones with us, which brought normality to quite an abnormal situation.”

Baby Joseph Smith had been a patient on Bolton’s neonatal unit for more than 150 days and was not well enough to travel for the wedding. (Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

Patricia, who has worked as a neonatal nurse since 1988 and joined Bolton NHS Foundation Trust in 2011, was helped by nurses Rebecca Wynn, Susannah Smith and ward clerk, Lindsay Sargeant.

She added: “I’m very proud of what I do. Watching babies getting stronger day by day and helping families create memories is very rewarding.

Patricia was helped by nurses Rebecca Wynn, Susannah Smith and ward clerk, Lindsay Sargeant. (Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

“I love seeing the progress and following their journey to going home.”


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