May 08, 2018 05:55 PM

Just days after she had her arm torn off in a gruesome crocodile attack, a woman from Africa found the strength to wed her sweetheart in a chapel in her hospital.

Zanele Ndlovu and her then-fiancé, Jamie Fox, were canoeing in the Zambezi river— the fourth-longest in Africa— on April 30 when an 8-foot-long crocodile came out from the water and attacked them.

“The canoe started deflating and it all happened so fast. The crocodile bit me again and pulled me into the water,” Zanele, 25, told the Chronicle, a newspaper in Zimbabwe. “My husband was thrown out on the opposite side so the boat was between us.”

Zanele Ndlovu

The large animal attempted to drag Zanele deeper into the water, but Jamie grabbed hold of her and beat the animal with his bare fists in an attempt to save his love.

“Jamie swam over to where I was struggling with the crocodile that was trying to pull me to the bottom of the river,” Zanele, a former national tennis player, recalled. “He grabbed my waist and with the other hand he rained blows on the crocodile.”

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Tour guides helped to fight off the crocodile, and the animal finally let go of Zanele.

“I was shouting, trying to save her,” Jamie told the Associated Press. “She was not complaining of pain when we managed to pull her out of the water, maybe because of the shock. We were hoping the doctors would save her arm but that was not to be.”

Zanele was taken to a local hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and though she was missing her limb, she soon found comfort in having survived the traumatizing ordeal. With the couple’s wedding date scheduled for the following Saturday, the two decided to keep the date but have the ceremony in the hospital’s chapel as Zanele recovered.

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“I spent a lot of time preparing for my wedding day, running around for a venue, decor and so forth,” Zanele told the Chronicle. “I didn’t know fate would have me wed in a hospital chapel, with one limb missing. But in all this, I’m not complaining. My wedding was the best, and I have a wonderful husband.”

Jamie proposed in February, he told the AP, adding that the two have dated for about 18 months before they married. They are now hoping to figure out Zanele’s visa so they can settle down together as husband and wife in the United Kingdom.

“We were glad we still had our lives and managed to keep our wedding date,” Jamie said. “Although we had to do with a much smaller venue.”

According to the Telegraph, the crocodile that attacked Zanele was killed after it was found by park rangers days after the incident.

“I love her even more and this incident actually made me feel the deep meaning in our vows,” Jamie told the Chronicle. “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, that’s just how our love is going to be. I never even at one point had the thought of calling off the wedding.”

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