PITTSBURGH, Penn. – A bride says her wedding day was perfect, because a piece of her late father was there.
Jeni Stepien’s father, Michael, was murdered in 2006. The Pennsylvania man’s organs were donated, and Arthur Thomas received his heart. He had been waiting 16 years for a transplant, KDKA reports.
On Friday, Arthur met Jeni for the first time. She sobbed when she felt her dad’s heart beat for the first time in more than a decade.
“I’m so excited,” said Jeni. “The whole family is here now. It’s like everybody is here.”
The Stepiens stayed in touch with Arthur over the years with phone calls and letters. As Jeni’s wedding day approached, she asked Arthur for one small favor.
“Jeni wrote me a letter,” Arthur told KDKA, “and she said, ‘Dear Tom, I’m the daughter of the man who’s heart is inside of you and I’m going to get married on August 6th… And one further thing if you are willing, would you walk me down the aisle?”
Jeni hopes her story will inspire others.
“It’s just like having my dad here and better because we get to share this story with people and other people see that organ donors do matter,” said Jeni.