Heart Transplant Patient With Possibly Days Left To Live Weds High School Sweetheart In Chicago Hospital Chapel

A little past noon Wednesday, around 50 friends, family members and hospital staff at the University of Chicago Medical Center squeezed into a chapel in a corner of the hospital’s seventh floor to celebrate the wedding of a 23-year-old patient expected to be discharged on Thanksgiving to go into hospice care. A makeshift aisle made of white tissue paper ran down the center of the chapel, bordered with electric candles. Perched between the foldable chairs facing the front of the room — too few for the weddinggoers to sit on — were small tissue boxes. Javier Rodriguez, known to his friends and family as Javi, has familial dilated cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease that predisposes victims to develop heart failure at a young age. He’s had two heart transplants, one when he was 14 and another when he was 18.