Love, resilience and a hospital wedding

A story of love and care blossomed into a career at Norton Healthcare

In the face of life’s most challenging moments, love and determination have the power to transform ordinary days into extraordinary memories. For Kelly Morris, her extraordinary memory from a difficult time just happens to be her wedding day.

Kelly and her now-husband, Dalton Morris, got engaged in August 2021. What should have been a joyful time filled with wedding planning and celebrating soon took a turn.

“Dalton and I had a wedding date picked out, a venue and more already scheduled with deposits paid. Fast forward to December 2021, and my mom’s health took a major turn for the worst.”

In early 2022 Kelly’s mother, Debbie Herndon, was awaiting multiple lifesaving procedures, including a liver transplant. Debbie was diagnosed with liver disease when she was a teenager. For most of her life she didn’t encounter many issues related to her diagnosis. That was until she contracted the COVID-19 virus.

“On top of other medical issues, her liver was no longer able to filter the toxins out of her body,” Kelly said. “She was on the transplant list for a liver, but we didn’t know if she would make it until the donor was found.”

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As Kelly watched her mother’s health rapidly decline, fear gripped her heart. It seemed increasingly unlikely that her mother would be able to make it to her scheduled transplant or her daughter’s wedding day. In Kelly’s eyes, her mother was not just a parent, and the thought of taking on this milestone without her mom was heart-wrenching.

“My mom has been my rock for my whole life, and after Dalton and I started dating in 2020, she became his too. We knew we needed her to be involved in our wedding,” Kelly said. “I just kept thinking about how she is supposed to get ready with me on my wedding day and help my dad give me away.”

Getting to the chapel on time

The couple had hurriedly planned a small church ceremony to ensure Mom’s presence. However five days before this ceremony was to take place, Debbie was suddenly admitted to the hospital. Determined that her mother would be a part of the wedding day, Kelly, Dalton and their friends devised a beautiful plan.

“We decided we were going to see if we could get permission to have the wedding ceremony in the hospital chapel so my mom could be a part of our special moment,” Kelly said. “After several phone calls and back-and-forths, we got the all-clear!”

Kelly, Dalton and their friends got ready and headed to Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital. In the presence of loved ones, a watchful nurse and — most important to Kelly — Mom, the couple exchanged vows and were pronounced husband and wife.

More reasons to celebrate

Over a year later, Debbie’s health has improved significantly. She received four heart stents and a liver and kidney transplant. She was celebrating her 60th birthday in August.

After the hospital wedding, Kelly was faced with a new challenge — finding a meaningful career. She had graduated from the University of Kentucky before her wedding, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic she was still searching for a career she could call her own. During her search, the special memory she had at Norton Healthcare kept shining through and led her to a place where she could be a part of providing the same kind of amazing care that Debbie and all the family experienced. Kelly now works as a receptionist at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Brownsboro.

“Norton Healthcare felt like a no-brainer for many reasons, including this special event in our lives,” Kelly said. “Not only did the staff make sure this moment happened for us, but they also went above and beyond expectations, way more than anyone would expect for a hospital. I knew I wanted to be a part of something like that!”

Reflecting on her wedding day and the journey she took to get there, Kelly said she’s reminded of the best piece of advice that her mother ever gave her: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and focus on the things that really matter.”

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