Making Wedding Day Dreams Come True

By: Martin Kinnunen

Tears of joy started to well up in the eyes of Thomas Pipchok, a double-organ transplant recipient, as he described the extraordinary steps taken by nurses and other staff to create a “fairytale wedding” at UPMC Montefiore.

A resident of Baden, Pipchok had planned to wed his fiancée, Sherry, on Aug. 15 at a park in Beaver County. However, several days before the wedding, a liver and kidney became available, and Pipchok, who suffered from hypertension and cirrhosis, received his new organs during a 12-hour

Recovering in his room on the Abdominal Transplant floor at UPMC Montefiore, Mr. Pipchok mentioned to his bedside nurse, Sandra Morgan, R.N., that he and Sherry still wanted to tie the knot on Aug. 15. Rather than a park, the ceremony would simply take place in his hospital room.

The idea of a wedding in a hospital room didn’t sit well with staff. So the day before, they swung into action to organize a ceremony and reception to remember. Two hours later, all the plans were in place.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way to get the job done,” said Diane Knapp, R.N. “This was their wedding, and we all wanted to make it special.”

Knapp contacted Carol Scholle, clinical director, Inpatient Care Services, as well as Michelle Hughes, senior administrative assistant. After phone calls to Rabbi Larry Heimer, manager, Pastoral Care, and Nicole Cable, manager, Catering, and others, it was decided to have a late afternoon ceremony in the Leah and Max Rogal Interfaith Meditation Room followed by a reception in the Berkman Board Room.

Pipchok’s sister, District Justice Janet Swihart of Hopewell Township, officiated. Cable and her staff decorated the boardroom with flowers and linens. They served chicken romano, orecchiette pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in a lemon vinaigrette, other treats, and, of course, a wedding cake.

“What they did for us was just so incredible,” Pipchok said. “I couldn’t have asked for any better care, and the wedding was just wonderful and perfect.”

“They created a fairytale wedding for us,” he added. “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all you did.”