Heart transplant patient marries high school sweetheart in hospital chapel

By

National News

November 29, 2019 - 11:18 AM

Javy Rodriguez and Crystal Cuevas exchange vows during their wedding before family, friends and medical staff Wednesday in the chapel at the University of Chicago Medical Center. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

CHICAGO — A little past noon Wednesday, around 50 friends, family members and hospital staff at the University of Chicago Medical Center squeezed into a chapel in a corner of the hospital’s seventh floor to celebrate the wedding of a 23-year-old patient expected to be discharged on Thanksgiving to go into hospice care.

A makeshift aisle made of white tissue paper ran down the center of the chapel, bordered with electric candles. Perched between the foldable chairs facing the front of the room — too few for the wedding-goers to sit on — were small tissue boxes.

Javier Rodriguez, known to his friends and family as Javi, has familial dilated cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease that predisposes victims to develop heart failure at a young age. He’s had two heart transplants, one when he was 14 and another when he was 18.

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