Student dies of leukaemia, one day after his marriage

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The Independent Online

An Oxford University student has died from leukaemia on the day after he married his girlfriend, despite the best efforts of friends and family to find him a bone marrow donor.

Matt Carver, 22, married fellow student Nicola Godfrey, 21, at Brasenose College Chapel on 31 July. The couple, who had got engaged before Mr Carver was diagnosed with the disease in January, brought forward the date of the ceremony after doctors had informed him that his condition was terminal.

The pair had originally intended to marry after they graduated, but altered their plans after doctors told them it was too late for Mr Carver to have a bone marrow transplant. The day after the ceremony he complained of feeling unwell and died in hospital a short time afterwards.

Mr Carver, from Newport, South Wales, had been studying for a masters in medieval history at Brasenose College. He was a member of the rowing, cricket and rugby teams. The college chaplain, the Rev Graeme Richardson, described him as an outstanding all-round student.

Mr Carver's widow, Nicola, who studies maths at New College, said her husband had been determined to beat leukaemia and had been "very, very brave" throughout his battle with the disease. She added: "I'm just so happy we made it to the wedding day. It was a true celebration of our love and was everything that we had dreamed of.

"Matt was desperate to get married and it was such a relief to get through the day and become his wife, but obviously we wanted more time together."

The couple decided to have a traditional white wedding, attended by 40 guests at Brasenose College, which had agreed to organise it at short notice.

Mr Carver had been having trouble walking after an exhausting regime of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. His health had seemed to be improving on their wedding day. His widow said he had been "just like any other groom" on the day of the wedding.

"He appeared to be in the best health he had been in for a long time. He looked fantastic, dressed up to the nines in his top hat and tails," she said. "But on Friday morning he took a turn for the worse and we knew he was bad.

"Matt put his heart and soul into everything he did. He was a fantastic man and I will miss him very much."

It was thought initially that Mr Carver might be able to have a life-saving bone marrow transplant operation. His future wife and her family encouraged people to visit special clinics set up in Newport, Oxford and Leeds, in the hope of finding a donor. One was hosted by the junior school Mr Carver had attended in Newport, with friends and former classmates offering help.

After doctors informed Mr Carver that his leukaemia had developed to a stage where a bone marrow transplant was no longer an option, he and his fiancée decided to bring forward their weeding plans.

The couple played in the university's wind orchestra, and first spoke to each other by a pool in St Tropez during the orchestra's tour of the French Riviera.

Mr Carver's mother Teresa said: "Matt was determined to get married and you could sense his happiness at the wedding. None of us were aware how little time was left. Emotions are running high but we have so many fond memories of Matt that will stay with us for ever."