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Video: Bionic bride’s wedding was emotional ‘rebirth’

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    >>> this morning on "today's" update 2010 , the bionic bride, we first metal alley smith last may. here's allie 's amazing story. this past spring, 22-year-old allie smith looked like any other blushing bride-to-be. a bionic heart was keeping her alive.

    >> this is the battery and controller. it connects through here and it right here goes through my abdomen and goes right through here into this part that goes to my heart. so it's all connected.

    >> what's the hum?

    >> it hums.

    >> four years ago, allie was diagnosed with a virus of the heart. it's often fatal without extreme medical intervention.

    >> her chance of living one year was only 50%.

    >> but allie had something else on her side, the love of a boy named mike.

    >> it was just a lot of commitment in our relationship, we have been through some hard times but we definitely have some good times and i wanted to see it through to the end, all the way. and i just love her, you know, and no one in my life could ever replace her.

    >> allie smith and mike babineau were married on june 6.

    >> when it came to exchanging vows and it was my turn to say, you know, until death do you part, i didn't want to say it, i want to love him just until i die.

    >> for now, allie smith babineau is enjoying her time as the bionic wife.

    >> he's been with me four years and not once did he ever leave because it's going to get too tough. it's a book that's not done being written. we're going to be 95 years old and still kicking . have a little faith in me

    >> allie is here with her parents, chris and ronnie smith. allie 's husband could not be here because of his work. how did those electric blue cowboy boots go over at the wedding? that's what i really want to know?

    >> they were awesome, everybody was like, are you sneers i said serious? i said why not? it's texas and i wear boots all the time.

    >> it must have been an incredible day for you.

    >> i was waiting for the day to go. i wanted to get married, i didn't want to get all dressed up, i just wanted to be there.

    >> let's get hitched.

    >> i do, i do, we're done.

    >> mom and dad , wedding day for any parent is an emotional time, but let's face it, with all you've been through with allie and her health, can you describe the emotions you were feeling on that day?

    >> it was one of the most emotional days i had was giving her away at that dance.

    >> it was amazing.

    >> when you walked down that aisle?

    >> a year to the day that she almost died was the day she got married, so it was like a rebirth, we were getting married on a day that we shouldn't have been there.

    >> and the guests were there, they all had to be just marveling at the fact that this was actually taking place. mom's crying. get tissues for mom. there we go. was it everything you dreamed of, allie , the event?

    >> to this day it's surreal, it's like a fair yi ty tail. it was beyond my expectations to say the least.

    >> we're talking about this emotional moment and yet it's hard not to notice that we're sitting here, there's the hardware. you don't travel lightly. you've got the batteries and the pump is still inside. how is it feeling? are you getting used to it?

    >> i'm ready for it to come out. my body's not ready for it, but i'm ready. just mentally. i want to enjoy the things i can't do in corpus, living on the beach and not being able to play in the water.

    >> doctor, let's talk about it. i remember the last time we were all here, the idea is for this pump to be in there to give allie 's own heart time to rest and get better. where are we in terms of the progress?

    >> that's correct, matt, at the american heart institute they have been studying this since the early '90s. when doctors would take patients to the operating room for transplants, they found that their heart had improved because of these pumps. in patients like alliallie --

    >> when is it ready to come out?

    >> not quite yet. but she's made incredible progress. we have turned the pump down to where it provides essentially no support to her heart. she's able to exercise on a treadmill and her heart has dramatically improved.

    >> you suffered a set back, an infection around the tubing?

    >> yeah, the little line that goes in through here, for some reason, there's some fluid that had just collected so the only way to figure out if there was an infection or not was to surgically go into the operating room and suck it all out and have the infectious disease do cultures and let it grow. luckily, that turned out okay.

    >> it was a minor infection that has been treated with antibiotics and will not affect her long-term.

    >> talk about the holidays, you guys have a lot to be thankful for. we're excited that you decided to stop back and spend some time with us. our love to

TODAY contributor
updated 12/1/2010 10:36:56 AM ET 2010-12-01T15:36:56

Nearly four years of fear, worry and anguish dissolved into unbridled joy when the “Bionic Bride” Ally Smith waltzed down the aisle with Mike Babineaux on their wedding day, June 26 — just a year after heart patient Ally had been planning her own funeral.

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College sweethearts Ally and Mike saw their future in peril when Ally developed cardiomyopathy — a heart virus that is often fatal. The Texas A&M students had been dating for about six months when Ally was diagnosed in the spring of 2007, but even when it looked like Ally’s life was going to be cut tragically short, Mike still got down on bended knee and asked for her hand in marriage.

But thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, the pair not only saw their wedding day become a reality, but now can confidently plan a future: Doctors implanted a HeartMate II mechanical pump into Ally that takes over the pumping function of her own weakened muscle. And since her 2009 implant, it’s been a case of so far, so good for the gal dubbed the Bionic Bride.

“A year to the day that she almost died was the day she got married, so it was like a rebirth,” Ally’s mother Krista Smith told Matt Lauer live on TODAY Wednesday in New York.

Story: Bionic heart keeps bride, 22, alive

While the beaming Bionic Bride — now the Bionic Wife — appeared with her mother, dad Ronnie Smith and her heart doctor Roberta Bogaev on TODAY, work commitments kept Mike Babineaux back home in Corpus Christi. Still, he was front and center in the family’s thoughts as they talked about the man who stuck with Ally through thick and thin.

Last May, Babineaux appeared with Smith on TODAY, explaining why he stuck by Ally even when their future together seemed hopeless. “I just love her, and no one in my life could replace her,” he told Lauer. “I want to see it through to the end, all the way.”

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Mike originally proposed to Ally in September 2008, but within a week, her rapidly deteriorating heart caused her body to shut down. Unlikely to find a heart donor in time to save her life (only 5 percent of those needing heart transplants are lucky enough to receive them), doctors opted to implant what essentially is a bionic heart during a risky, touch-and-go procedure.

Ally, in fact, had a life-or-death moment during the first implant attempt; a kink in the implant system caused doctors to abort the procedure. At one point, nurses told the Smiths their daughter was unlikely to last the night. But a second attempt did the trick, and now Ally is kept alive and amazingly mobile with an implanted heart pump that connects to an external battery she carries in a handbag slung across her shoulder.

Ally told NBC News it was Babineaux’s love that carried her through her darkest days. “He’s been with me for four years, and not once did he leave because it was going to get too tough,” she said. “It’s a book that’s not done being written. Me and him are going to be 95 years old and still kicking!”

Ally’s prognosis is hopeful. Speaking on TODAY Wednesday, Dr. Bogaev said the HeartMate II was originally devised to buy time for a patient needing a heart transplant, but as the device essentially does the heart’s work for it, doctors have found the heart actually has time to rest and heal itself.

There may yet come a day when Ally doesn’t need her bionic heart at all — and she can hardly wait. An enthusiastic athlete in college, she can only exercise moderately now, and because her life revolves around the battery pack attached to her heart pump, she’s not allowed to get it wet with a swim.

“I’m ready for it to come out,” she told Lauer. “My body’s not ready yet, but I’m ready. Eventually I want to enjoy the things I can’t do in Corpus, living on a beach and not being able to play in the water.”

But for now, Smith is just enjoying her time as a newlywed. She thought back fondly to her wedding day, a day she once believed she might not live to see, and told Lauer she made good on her vow to wear her electric blue cowboy boots underneath her stately wedding gown.

“They were awesome!” she told Lauer. “Everybody was, ‘Are you seriously wearing them?’ I was like, ‘Why not? It’s Texas, I wear boots all the time and I love them.’ ”

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And the close brush with her own mortality made saying the “I dos” with her personal hero husband all the more poignant.

“When it came to exchanging vows, and it was my turn to say, ‘Till death do us part,’ I didn’t want to say it,” Ally told NBC. “I want to love him, not just until I die, but when I’m up there waiting for him or he’s up there waiting for me.”

Dr. Bogaev added she believes the day will come when Ally is free from needing her bionic heart. “Especially patients who are young like Ally, we see their heart function improve and it allows us to remove the pump,” she told Lauer.

“She’s made incredible progress. Her heart has dramatically improved.”

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