A wedding canceled when the groom had emergency heart surgery went ahead later as nurses in a Maryland hospital rallied to make it happen, observers said.

Air Force Maj. Jonathan Richter, flanked by a portable heart monitor, exchanged vows with Sheba Phillips in the lobby of the Anne Arundel Medical Center's critical care unit in Annapolis, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Richter was rushed into surgery early Thursday for a coronary angioplasty after it was discovered that he was headed for a heart attack because of a blocked artery, the newspaper said.

But as the veteran Air Force pilot canceled plans for the scheduled wedding at the Annapolis Yacht Club, nurses of the critical care unit were making plans of their own.

"It came natural -- we just said, 'bring it here'," Michelle Donovan, clinical director of critical care services, said.

A nurse came up with the idea as word of the canceled wedding spread among the staff, Donovan said.

"Whether it's a hamburger or a wedding, we try to meet the patient's needs," she said.

"I'm glad they put the thought in our minds and were able to throw it together," Phillips said. "The main thing is getting married, and if this is what it takes, it's what it takes."

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Longtime friends of Richter and Phillips, whom they described as fiercely loyal, said they weren't surprised that the two kept their word to say "I do."

"It blew us away," said Tiffany Sherman, a friend of the couple for 25 years. "They say for better or worse, and they're getting the worse over now."