Marriage vows from a hospital bed: How Shelby County newlyweds overcame a rare illness
by: Laura Laughead
Posted: May 24, 2023 / 07:10 PM CDT
Updated: May 24, 2023 / 08:06 PM CDT
CHELSEA, Ala. (WIAT) — A local pair of newlyweds are living proof that love can conquer all — even in a hospital room.
For Allan and Sydney Hanns, the vow "in sickness and in health" takes on a whole new meaning. In August, the Shelby County police officer and his new fiancée based in Chelsea were out looking for wedding venues when he felt weak and couldn't breathe.
Doctors couldn't find the problem until one day he had severe chest pain and nausea.
"I looked at Sydney and said ‘OK, I guess we’re gonna go to the hospital,'" Allan Hanns said.
At Grandview Medical Center, his health took a turn for the worse.
"He went from this picture of health to this person that is on all organ failure pretty much," Sydney Hanns said.
"It was pretty dire the first time I saw and talked to him. He was struggling to breathe, his hands and feet were cold, his lungs were filled with fluid," said Dr. William Black, an interventional cardiologist with Alabama Cardiovascular Group who treated Allan.
Allan Hanns suffered from what's called cardiogenic shock due to cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure. Black said it's very rare in someone so young and healthy.
"We just felt robbed," Sydney Hanns said. "Everything that we thought we had was probably gonna be taken from us. … I remember telling my mom I don't know what I’m gonna do if something happens to him."
She dropped everything, including her studies at the University of Montevallo, to stay at his side.
Doctors used a special pump called Impella to help him circulate blood and save his life — the first time they’d done this procedure at Grandview. For further treatment, they transferred him to UAB.
Then, in a ward all too familiar with tragedy, they decided they wouldn't wait to be married a moment longer. Allan Hanns gave his vows from his hospital bed.
"The nurses did great by even making us a little bow tie for me, a flower bouquet for her," Allan Hanns said.
The nurses also provided some champagne glasses — filled with grape juice bubbly, of course.
Suddenly, he began to recover, amazing the experts.
"It's absolutely a miracle, he's done remarkably well. The harsh reality is that cardiogenic shock carries a very, very high mortality," Black said.
A few months later, in March, this "walking miracle" finally got to stand at the altar with his wife in front of all their family and friends.
Now, life for Allan Hanns is mostly back to normal except for some medication and a special diet. This fall, the couple is going on their honeymoon on a cruise in Florida.
"Not only is it a celebration of marriage but a celebration of life," Allan Hanns said. "In sickness and in health, we did that part. For richer and poorer, we’ve done pretty good in that part, so it can only go up from here."
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