Miami-Dade County

Ryder Trauma Center patient marries his longtime fiancée at the hospital

James Brown and Eva Meiningsih were married at Jackon Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. Brown is a patient in the neuro-rehabilitation unit.
James Brown and Eva Meiningsih were married at Jackon Memorial Hospital on Wednesday. Brown is a patient in the neuro-rehabilitation unit. Miami Herald Staff

A Jackson Memorial Hospital conference room was transformed into a church for James Brown and Eva Meiningsih, who on Wednesday exchanged vows after an eight-year engagement.

“Even though we did this in a hospital, I still feel like God’s blessed us,” Brown said.

The couple stood in front of an arch decorated with lace, yellow roses and blue and white flowers. White rose petals lined the aisle and white bows decorated the chairs.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Meiningsih, 31, walked down the aisle to Brown, seated in a wheelchair.

Brown, 57, has been hospitalized since April, when he was diagnosed with meningitis, a life-threatening disease caused by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes.

Before exchanging vows, Brown sang the Wedding Song (There is Love) by Peter, Paul & Mary. Brown said he chose the song because it “touches the heart.”

Even Brown’s hospital team from Honduras, where he first experienced meningitis symptoms, was able to view the ceremony via video chat on an iPad.

After the ceremony, a reception was held in the other half of the conference room for the couple’s guests, most of whom worked in the hospital.

“I’m numb,” Brown said. “It’s just incredible. I came here in a coma, and this morning I went on a walk. This has been our dream.”

The makeshift wedding was put together by different members of the Jackson Memorial Hospital staff. Kelly Messett, one of Brown’s recreation therapists in neuro-rehab, said the day was “amazing.”

“Several different departments at Jackson came together, and everybody did their little part to make this all happen,” Messett said.

Brown and Meiningsih met in 2007 by chance in Indonesia. Brown was there working as a furniture-business consultant and Meiningsih was selling clothes. The two were engaged within six months.

The couple moved to Honduras four years later, where Brown planned to open and run a furniture factory. Wedding plans were held off until the couple could move back to the United States, where Brown was born.

Brown first began experiencing meningitis symptoms in April. For the next month, he remained in a coma in a hospital in Honduras. In May, he was flown to Miami and placed in Jackson’s neurosurgical intensive care unit. He has since moved out of ICU and is receiving rehabilitation at Ryder Trauma Center, where he lives.

Meiningsih said she hasn’t left his side since Brown became ill.

“I’m always there, every day for him,” she said.

Brown will continue physical and recreation therapy at Jackson until he can walk again on his own.

“We’re just building him up — getting him stronger so he can go and be married and be successful again,” Messett said.

“Knowing him and knowing Eva,” Messett added, choking back tears, “they love each other so much. It’s true love.”

Brown and Meiningsih obtained their marriage license last week from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Meiningsih said her wedding Wednesday was all she ever wanted.

“I’m very, very happy,” Meiningsih said. “This is my wish come true.”

Now that Brown is married, he said his next plan is to begin walking again. “I’m going to keep going till I get my legs back under me. This is worth fighting for.”