Friday, January 15, 2010

A heartwarming wedding on Ellison 10

WITH THIS RING: Steve and Nancy Greenstein at their wedding on Ellison 10 with Rabbi Sam Seicol of MIT Hillel

It's not often one encounters a touching love story within the four walls of the hospital. Recently, however, several members of the Heart Failure/Cardiac Transplant Program and the Cardiac Step Down Unit were witness to the culmination of a poignant relationship between cardiac patient Steve Greenstein, age 65, and his longtime partner, Nancy. Steve, who has been an inpatient on Ellison 10 awaiting a heart transplant since November, married Nancy at a Dec. 26 ceremony held in the unit's solarium, which the bride had decorated with flowers.


Approximately 15 of the couple's family members, friends and Steve's caregivers attended the event, including Kimberly Parks, DO, transplant cardiologist; David Finn, MD, primary care physician; and Deirdre Sweeney, NP, Complex Care Service nurse practitioner. The newlyweds met back in 1998 through relatives and soon afterward began dating. When Steve was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in 2003, Nancy learned of her own health care crisis -- she had stage II breast cancer.

"We took care of each other through it all," Nancy says. "Steve was sick, and I was sick, but together we got through it.Ó" Irene Kuter, MD, DPhil, of the MGH Cancer Center, cared for Nancy, who has been in remission for five years.

"Steve has gone through so much with Nancy right by his side," says Marc Semigran, MD, director of the MGH Heart Failure/Cardiac Transplant Program. "Over Thanksgiving he was on a ventilator, and he nearly died. When he woke up and realized he was waiting for a heart transplant, it was then that he decided he didn't want to wait to get married. Nancy made it all happen right here in the solarium within a week."

Adds Parks, "It was beautiful to see Steve vibrant enough to stand up and go through the ceremony and make this commitment to Nancy. He's persevered through this illness. It's wonderful that he had that kind of support from his family and friends. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays and his life and commitment to his new wife."

Of his marriage to Nancy, Steve could not be happier. "She's my sweetheart and my sunshine," he says. "I just thank all of the doctors and nurses here at Mass General for saving my life. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. Dr. Conor Barrett brought me back to life, along with Dr. Semigran, Dr. Parks and my primary care doctor, Dr. Finn. I'm a very lucky man to be here and to have such a wonderful wife."