By Allie Goolrick, WSB-TV
ATLANTA – A groom in Alaska was able to surprise his bride-to-be with an incredibly precious gift: meeting the young man who received her son’s heart.
Two years ago, in 2015, Becky Turney lost her son Triston when he was just 19 years old. The devastated family took some comfort in the fact that Triston was a registered organ donor and was able to save five other lives.
Fast-forward to last week, as Becky prepared for her wedding to longtime love Kelley Turney. Little did she know that Kelley had secretly reached out to 21-year-old Jacob Kilby, the man who now has Triston’s heart.
Photographer Amber Lanphier captured the sweet moments when Kelley paused the ceremony to introduce the “mystery” sixth groomsman, Kilby.
And if the photos are any indication, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Channel 2 caught up with the Turneys and Kilby in Alaska via phone to hear their incredible story:
“I couldn’t wrap my arms around him fast enough,” Becky remembered. “You can’t put it into words. It’s immense joy. That’s the coolest thing about the pictures. If you look at (them), it says it all. Total surprise, complete joy. My world was as complete as it could be.”
Jacob Kilby was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and had his first heart transplant at age 2. His health took a turn for the worse around the time he was finishing high school and he was once again put on the transplant list.
Kilby received his new heart in 2015, shortly after Triston’s death. It would be another year before the two families connected through a donor aftercare program.
In March, Kelley arranged for Kilby and Becky to talk on the phone as a birthday surprise. The two hit it off so well Kelley decided to see if Kilby was game to fly from California to Alaska for the couple’s wedding this summer. Kilby jumped at the chance.
Becky’s family was able to keep the visit a secret from her until the perfect moment. Then, After the ceremony was over, she finally got the chance to hear her son’s heartbeat again in person.