Ten years ago, Jeni Stepien’s father, Michael Stepien, was murdered in cold blood during a robbery. She was only 23 when her family gathered around his body, hooked up to countless machines, as he stayed on life support for 24 hours. They finally accepted that their father was gone and made the decision to donate his organs in order to save the lives of others – something that she knows he would have wanted.
Now, ten years later, she sent a letter to the man who received her father’s heart and asked him a huge favor…Jeni had no one to walk her down the aisle and wanted to know if Arthur Thomas, “Tom” to the family, would do the honors.
Tom had been waiting for a heart transplant in New Jersey for nearly 10 years before Michael’s heart became available. If the heart had not been donated, Tom knows that he would have died without it.
The family had kept in touch with the man over the years, but this would be the first time the the two would meet. Jeni couldn’t contain her joy, and tears were shared as she felt her father’s heart beating for the first time in over a decade.
She wanted her story to encourage others to take organ donation seriously.
Organ donation can provide an opportunity for a second chance at life. It is an exceptional gift, one that is selfless and generous, and always appreciated by the recipient,” she said. “We were able to see how wonderfully Tom was progressing all of these years, simply thriving, and in turn, helped us with our own grief.”
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