Jeni Stepien’s father was murdered more than a decade ago. But in a way, Michael Stepien was there to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding on Saturday in Swissvale, Pennsylvania.
That’s because after Michael Stepien’s death, his heart was donated to Arthur Thomas of New Jersey. On Friday, Jeni Stepien finally met the man who was granted a new lease on life by her father’s tragic death.
The Stepiens and the Thomases have kept in touch since the transplant took place in 2006. Earlier this year, Jeni Stepien wrote to Thomas and asked if she would attend her wedding and walk her down the aisle.
After getting the go-ahead from his daughter, Thomas agreed.
“First person I’ll ever be walking down the aisle,” Thomas told KDKA.
Stepien said that Thomas made her special day that much better.
“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,” Jeni Stepien said.