Cardiac Patient attends daughter’s England wedding via video

Published: March 31, 2016

Mike Jenkins wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of seeing his daughter get married. Not two heart attacks early last week or the unexpected, triple bypass open-heart surgery that followed a few days later. Not thousands of miles.

Sparrow Caregivers helped fulfill his wish to watch her wed. 

Early this morning, Jenkins donned the suit custom-made for the ceremony near London, England, and dialed in from Sparrow Hospital using a computer and webcam to participate via video conferencing.

“I think my face was just beaming. I’ve been smiling since I woke up,” said Jenkins, 67, of East Lansing. “I feel like I was right next to them. It was sort of like a virtual receiving line.”

Family and friends came up with the idea when it became clear Jenkins wouldn’t be able to physically attend his daughter Kelly’s wedding. Sparrow’s Patient Experience and Information Technology Departments collaborated to secure the proper technology and confirm connectivity on both ends.

“The needs of our Patients always come first,” said Brigette Kieft, Sparrow Health System Patient Experience Administrator. “We pride ourselves in providing radical loving care. We knew we had to do whatever we could to make this special moment happen.”

Jenkins’ wife Jan stayed with him through surgery last week, until he was stable, and then made the trip. She used an iPad to include him in every detail of the day like walking down the aisle and bride Kelly and groom Billy’s first kiss.

A small crowd gathered with him to watch in a conference room. Sparrow Caregivers surprised them with wedding decorations, a cake and sparkling apple juice.

Jenkins, Communications Director at the Michigan State University College of Arts and Letters, adapts easily even when it involves his only child’s wedding.

“Of course, I’d rather be there in person,” he said, “But like I told Kelly, “you want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plans.”

Jenkins said he started writing the toast he'd deliver at his daughter's wedding the day she was born. In October, he donned a tuxedo, raised a glass of champagne and spoke his heart out to a video camera. He wanted a backup plan given his history of heart attacks and strokes. That video played at the reception today and he intends to toast them in person soon. There are plans to recreate the wedding and reception this summer when Jenkins is well enough to travel.

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