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Local couple ties the knot in ICU at Jennie Edmundson
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Local couple ties the knot in ICU at Jennie Edmundson

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A pandemic love story in Council Bluffs.

Jonathan Johnson spent more than a month in the intensive care unit at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs battling COVID-19 — spending more than three weeks on a ventilator.

Jenna Harvey, one of the nurses who helped care for Johnson, said that there were moments when staff questioned whether or not he would make it home.

Amy Waldstein, another nurse who cared for Johnson, said it was admirable how he fought against COVID the whole time.

“He did every possible thing he needed to do to get past COVID,” she said.

In mid-October the ventilator was removed — and a few days after, he knew it was time to marry his fiancé, Mariah Copeland-Johnson.

“I didn’t want any regrets,” he said. “After coming off the ventilator, you view a lot of things differently in life.”

With the help of hospital staff, including Waldstein and Harvey, friends and family, Johnson was able to surprise his fiancé with a wedding in the ICU.

“I wanted to make it a surprise, something she could remember, something the nurses from the ICU could remember,” Johnson said.

Mariah noted on Oct. 14 her best friend said they should do their hair and makeup — so they did so before going to see Johnson. She said once she got to the hospital she was wondering why her friends and family brought a big bag with them. She later found out it was carrying her wedding dress.

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Mariah showed up to the hospital for what she thought was just a visit — Johnson was no longer contagious or in isolation — but after arriving, she soon found out she was there to get married.

“It was shocking,” she said. “I was completely blown back.”

Cakes from the hospital cafeteria were brought up, music was played on a cell phone and Waldstein played the role of photographer.

Mariah said she didn’t think the wedding was going to happen that soon, but she’s happy that it did.

“I can spend my forever with the man that I love,” she said.

The couple plans to do a vow ceremony once Johnson gets stronger. Right now he is on the mend at home and is still on oxygen.

Johnson was discharged the week following the wedding, on Oct. 21, and the Council Bluffs couple was able to get their marriage paperwork finalized on Oct. 22.

Harvey said this outcome gave her light.

“You see a lot of sadness and sometimes the end isn’t always what we want,” she said. “With Johnson this gave us hope and kind of keeps us going.”

Waldstein said it was fun to see the couple happy and being able to help put the wedding together.

“This was a really happy, cherished moment,” she said.

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