Couple cancel wedding to marry in hospital so their cancer-stricken daughter can be the flower girl

By Lindsay de Freitas
24 July 2014

Adorable Elsie (2), who has Down’s Syndrome, stole the spotlight on their big day.

A UK couple cancelled their wedding plans and married in hospital so their daughter, who suffers from leukaemia, could attend.

'We'd booked the venue, sampled the food and Helen had even brought a dress'

Elsie’s parents  Helen and Arun Kumar underwent two years of fertility treatment to have her and were left devastated when she developed myeloid leukaemia last year. For a while things looked up for Elsie, who has Down’s Syndrome, when her cancer went into remission late last year.

But the little girl has since relapsed and has been an inpatient at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital since June.

Helen and Arun were planning a September wedding but fearing that time is running out for their little one, they cancelled their plans and got married in hospital so that she could attend.

“We'd booked the venue, sampled the food and Helen had even brought a dress.” explained Arun, “When doctors confirmed that she had (relapsed), we decided to move the wedding forward. We wanted to get married with her there.”

Thankfully the impromptu wedding day turned out perfect for the Kumars. “It was a fantastic day. All our family and friends came, and Elsie was the flower girl, going up the aisle behind Helen on her trike,” said Arun.

“She (Elsie) was on great form, despite being on five days of strong chemotherapy just before. She stole the show.”

Elsie is one of the one in 10 children with Down's Syndrome that also has transient abnormal myelopoiesis, a leukaemia-like condition which can lead to myeloid leukaemia.

In Elsie’s case it did lead to full-blown leukaemia, which was diagnosed just as Elsie turned two. A blood stem cell transplant is her best hope of beating terminal illness; however her chance of finding a matching donor is drastically reduced because she has no siblings and is of mixed ethnicity.

“For Elsie, being mixed race, the chance is going to be a million to one or more,” Helen says.

But the newlyweds remain hopeful and are trying to make what could be Elsie’s last days with them as enjoyable as possible. “She doesn't want to be ill, she just wants to play and be a normal toddler,” explains Arun.

“We take her out every morning so she can play on the swings for half an hour or so before returning to hospital.”


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