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Texas hospital offers blessing ceremony for father who can’t make daughter’s wedding: ‘Very emotional’

Bride-to-be Tatiana Palza was facing a wedding without her father due to his rehab after back surgery. But the rehab hospital in Katy, Texas, was able to bring the wedding to Jorge Palza.

A rehab facility in Texas took a patient's treatment close to heart.

Staff at Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Katy, Texas, were able to bring Tatiana Palza’s wedding to her father, Jorge Palza, who would have had to miss her special day due to his rehab after back surgery.

Jorge Palza, 80, was expected to be released from the hospital before his daughter’s wedding on May 27 — but Tatiana Palza told Fox News Digital in an interview that her father needed additional rehabilitation and couldn't be released before the wedding.

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Jorge Palza, who lives in Bolivia, planned to have back surgery while visiting the U.S. before his daughter's wedding — he had every intention of walking his only daughter down the aisle.

He was expected to be in the hospital for just three to five days post-operation, but "one thing led to the other," the bride-to-be said, and Jorge Palza needed to stay in the rehab hospital for three weeks.

"He had two back surgeries and one procedure," she said.

"And then he was sent to Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Center where we thought [the] rehab was going to take a week or maximum, 10 days."

Once Houston-based Tatiana Palza received the news that her dad would have to stay in the rehab center for a longer period of time, they knew he’d miss the wedding that had been postponed multiple times already.

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"We were supposed to get married by the church a long time ago and my husband and I had been postponing it for many reasons — our daughters were born, then the pandemic hit," she said. "Every time was something."

The Palzas also had family flying in from Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua and other areas of the world, so canceling again was not an option.

"It was really hard," Tatiana Palza said. "There were lots of tears, but we decided to go ahead."

Once Memorial Hermann Katy Rehab found out that Jorge Palza would be missing his daughter’s special day, his therapists, including occupational therapist Kendra Smart, had a better idea.

"We heard that Mr. Palza was feeling pretty down about missing his daughter’s wedding," Smart told Fox News Digital.

"[Tatiana] mentioned, ‘Can the priest and my husband and I come up and do a blessing ceremony?’ And that's when my occupational therapist brain took off."

Having worked in occupational therapy for 13 years, Smart said she was concerned with how Jorge Palza’s mental health would impact his physical progress.

"When I heard that he was sad about missing this wedding, I knew we couldn't let that happen," she said. "We had to find a way to make him be a part of this."

Not only did the Katy Rehab team join with Tatiana Palza and her loved ones to carry out the ceremony on the morning of the wedding, but Smart was also able to incorporate Jorge Palza’s therapy into getting ready for the event.

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"My dad had to get dressed and shave and put on a tie and shoes and his suit — all part of his occupational therapy," said Tatiana Palza. 

Smart added, "What is more motivating and meaningful to someone than getting ready for your daughter's wedding?"

"It became a really fun thing to plan and to execute for Mr. Palza and Tatiana," she also said.

Smart explained that everyday activities are often incorporated into therapy based on patient interests, such as gardening and cooking — but Palza’s case "took the excitement to another level."

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"It’s really the coolest thing I’ve been a part of," she said. "It wasn't the wedding he planned, but it was a million times better than not being a part of his daughter's wedding."

Jorge Palza’s physical therapy that day included getting into his wheelchair and making his way down to the "beautiful garden" where the ceremony took place, said the new bride. 

"We all got dressed up," she said. "I wore my white dress, and we had a priest."

"It was more than we expected," she added.

Jorge Palza told Fox News Digital, "It was a very emotional day that I will never forget. At least we tried to be together … and things went well."

"We were cornered in such a way that they couldn’t assist with the real wedding, but there’s always a spark of intelligence that gave us the power to do that ceremony privately at the hospital, which gave me a lot of satisfaction," he said.

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After the ceremony at the rehab hospital, Tatiana Palza carried on with her original wedding plans, too, which her father was able to join via video chat.

"When we left the rehab center, I thought I was going to be devastated," the bride said. "But I think it helped us a lot to make him part of such a beautiful day."

She added, "When you plan things with love and good intentions, they will develop good."

Her father described how the Palzas are a "united family," including his new son-in-law, who "finally" made his daughter a married woman.

"Finally it happened," he said, laughing. "After many years."

Jorge Palza reported feeling "great" at the time of the interview.

Smart echoed that her patient made progress "every day" — which is a "testament" to the team at Memorial Hermann Katy Rehab, she said. 

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