As a teenager, Jennifer dealt with numerous health problems, from asthma and allergies to a severe pancreatitis attack. However, it wasn’t until her son was born through newborn screening that Jennifer was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 29.
Despite hospital stays and treatment at Mayo Clinic, Jennifer’s health continued to decline. By 2016, she needed oxygen 24/7 and was put on the waiting list for a double lung transplant. In 2017, Jennifer received a transplant from a young woman, Lacey, who passed away from a brain aneurysm.
Jennifer’s first breath after the transplant was caught on video, which went viral shortly after. This led to Jennifer’s fiancé, Rob, receiving a message from a TV show offering a “dream wedding” to engaged couples who had been through hardship. After an extensive process, they were chosen for the show.
Throughout, Jennifer had been in contact with Lacey’s mom, Michelle, who gave her a pin with Lacey’s picture on it to carry at the wedding. Lacey’s family also shared a message that was read at the wedding.
The wedding was held at Union Depot in Saint Paul, and despite some stress—including a trip to the hospital with pancreatitis the morning rehearsals were scheduled—the wedding was held surrounded by family and friends, as well as camera crews broadcasting live.
“From the moment I walked out on stage until the very end, I do not remember even seeing a camera,” Rob says. Acknowledging the importance of donated blood during Jennifer’s transplant, he also shared that he just received his three-gallon pin. “Oh my goodness,” says Jennifer. “I love you!”