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Saturday 3 December 2016

Man with locked-in syndrome uses technology to say 'I do' to fiance in emotional ceremony

Published 10/09/2015 | 08:17

David Garvey and his wife Bernie
David Garvey and his wife Bernie

A man with locked-in syndrome has married his sweetheart, less than a year after he was discharged from hospital.

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David Garvey (35) used eye-controlled technology to communicate his 'I do' to his fiance, Bernie.

David with (from l to r) his fiance Bernadette Dolan, mum Rose, sister Lynn Flood, Lynn's husband Kyle and David's dad Philip, on Lynn and Kyle's wedding day. Picture: Ciara Wilkinson.
David with (from l to r) his fiance Bernadette Dolan, mum Rose, sister Lynn Flood, Lynn's husband Kyle and David's dad Philip, on Lynn and Kyle's wedding day. Picture: Ciara Wilkinson.

The couple set their wedding date and booked the hotel for their ceremony three years ago, but just weeks later he was in intensive care in Beaumont Hospital. Although David spent the following two years in hospital, Bernie said she never doubted that they would get their day out.

"I always knew we would get married, I just knew it would happen and it did. We had a fantastic day. It was very emotional," she said.

Read more: Home at last: 'locked-in' David finally home ahead of marriage

David was consulted on all of the arrangements and with the help of his sister Lynn he wrote a moving speech about his bride, which Lynn read on his behalf.

David has locked in syndrome which means he can only communicate by moving his eyes
David has locked in syndrome which means he can only communicate by moving his eyes

"He said how much he loved me and a lot of our guests were nearly in tears. I managed not to cry, but I had cried enough going up the aisle."

David communicates using eye-controlled technology. His system also allows him to select letters with movements in his jaw.

He can then tell the machine to speak out what he has typed, and that was what he did during their ceremony to say 'I do'.

When the couple met about eight years ago, David was already using a wheelchair after suffering three strokes and a brain haemorrhage.

He was just 22 when he had his first stroke.

He was left with locked-in syndrome after brain surgery to remove abnormal blood vessels, called cavernomas, from his brain stem in 2012.

All of the trauma was forgotten last Friday, when the couple kept to their original plan to marry in September 2015.

The family fought to have David supplied with a home-care package, and got their wish when he was discharged nearly one year ago and spent his first Christmas at home in two years. "When I saw David sitting at the top of the room smiling and waiting for me, it was just fantastic," Bernie added.

They married in a civil ceremony at the Castle Arch Hotel in Trim, County Meath.

Bernie praised the hotel staff, who rang her while David was in hospital to see how he was doing, and she said they helped to make their day extra special.

"A lot of the guests said they had never witnessed such a romantic ceremony before. David was as involved as any other groom would be."

Although David has continued to make progress, he still requires round-the-clock care.

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