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Man with father's heart walks bride down the aisle!



It's a bittersweet wedding story a decade in the making: Nearly 10 years after Jeni Stepien's Father was killed, the man who received his donated heart traveled from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to walk her down the aisle.“The murder and the wedding
happened within a three block radius“ in the town of Swissvale, Pennsylvania, Jeni, an elementary schoolteacher, said in an interview on Monday , as she was about to board a plane for her honeymoon.
“And I was just thinking, `My dad is here with us, and this man is here with us because of us.' “ This story began in September 2006, when her father, Michael Stepien, was walking home from his job as head chef at a restaurant. Stepien, 53, was cutting through an alley when he was robbed at gunpoint by a 16-year-old, who shot him in the head at close range, she said. Leslie L Brown was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing and is serving 40 years to life in prison, according to news reports.
As her father lay dying at a hospital, Stepien said, her family “decided to accept the inevitable“ and donated his organs through an organisation called the Center for Organ Recovery and Education. The organisation allows donor families and the recipients to keep in touch with one another after the transplant. Stepien's heart went to Arthur Thomas, a father of four who lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey , and who Jeni said had been within days of dying. Given a diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia about 16 years before receiving the transplant, Thomas, 72, said in an interview on Monday that he was in congestive heart failure when word arrived that his doctors had found a heart. “In order to get to the top of the transplant list, you have to be really hurting,“ Thomas said. “Once I had my transplant, I, of course, decided I would write a thank-you to the family .“
From there, a relationship was forged through monthly phone calls, emails and letters. Stepien's mother, Bernice, kept in touch with Thomas.
But the families had not thought about meeting in person until Jeni Stepien, 33, became engaged to Paul Maenner, a 34year-old engineer, in October. “One of my first thoughts in that following week was, `Who will walk me down the aisle?' “ Stepien said. At her fiance's suggestion, Stepien wrote to Thomas, whom the family calls Tom, asking him to walk her down the aisle.

Source: TOI


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Man with father's heart walks bride down the aisle!

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