A mother stuck down by a rare life-threatening disease just days before her daughter’s wedding made it to the big day – thanks to 137 determined medics.
Frances Wilkins, 56, was rushed to hospital unable to move her arms and suffering with a crippling headache.
She underwent countless tests which failed to diagnose the mystery illness – all while daughter Elizabeth’s nuptials approached.
Determined doctors performed special out-of-hours scans and worked from home to diagnose Frances with Churg-Strauss syndrome – an extremely rare disease attacking the vital organs.
The mother-of-three immediately started treatment but was so weak her family thought she would never make the ceremony.
But nurses at Royal Bournemouth Hospital re-arranged rotas so they could drive her to the venue by ambulance, and accompany her throughout the ceremony.
The team at the event even did her hair, nails and make-up for the occasion.
Proud Mrs Wilkins, from West Moors, Dorset, said: “It was way beyond their jobs and I wouldn’t have made it to the wedding without them.
“This hospital has been fantastic and the care I received on the Acute Medical Unit was outstanding, especially the way they got me to the wedding.”
Her daughter Elizabeth, who married Richard Bolton, added: “I didn’t know mum was going to be there until the last minute.
“When I’d walked down the aisle, I just ran over and gave her a big hug, it was really emotional.”
Mrs Wilkins had been plagued with a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms for two months ahead of her daughter’s big day, on August 2.
She was rushed into hospital on July 25, after suffering an acute headache and loss of movement in both arms.
Doctors carried out tests but, unable to find a cause for her symptoms, ordered a special MRI scan.
Consultant Tanzeem Raza heard about the upcoming wedding and rallied colleagues.
He said: “I spoke urgently with my radiology colleague, Dr Paula McAlinden, who went out of her way to perform a very specific type of MRI scan which is generally not available out of hours.”
The results of the scan were so unusual that Dr McAlinden phoned Dr Raza at home to discuss them.
The pair diagnosed Churg-Strauss syndrome and immediately ordered intravenous steroids and chemotherapy.
Mrs Wilkins said: “The team were fantastic pushing through my scan outside of normal hours – if they hadn’t diagnosed me when they did, I either would have had very severe brain damage or not been here at all.”
Mrs Wilkins was left “severely weakened” by the treatment and staff set up an iPad with FaceTime so she could watch the wedding over the internet, from her hospital bed.
But determined ward sister Kelly Spaven reorganised the rotas so Mrs Wilkins could be escorted to the wedding at Kingston Mauward near Dorchester in Dorset, by staff nurse Beth Tucker.
Sister Spaven said: “Frances being rushed into hospital was a horrible scenario for the whole family and if there was one thing that we could have done to improve things, getting Frances to the wedding was it.
“I am so proud of my team as everyone went out of their way to ensure this could happen.”
Mrs Wilkins is hoping for a good recovery and continues to take medication.