Bride walked down aisle by transplant recipient of her father's heart
Even though Jeni Stepien's father could not be with her on her wedding day, his heart was still in the church: the man who received his heart in a transplant, Arthur Thomas, walked her down the aisle.
Stepien's father, Michael, was murdered in 2006 in their Pittsburgh suburb. Thomas received his heart after his death.
"I was on death's door when he was murdered and I needed a heart or I was going to be dying in the next few days," Thomas said of the transplant.
Stepien had not met Thomas until she wrote him a letter asking him to do the honors during the ceremony. They came together the night before the wedding, and Stepien felt her father's heart beat for the first time in ten years.
Stepien said, "I was just so thankful that my dad could be here with us today in spirit and a piece of his physical being as well. That was really special for us."
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Thomas was proud to walk Stepien down the aisle. "What a greater honor could a person have than walking the daughter of the man who's given his heart to him," he said. "I can't imagine a greater honor."
Stepien's groom, Paul Maenner, was also overwhelmed by the gesture. "I was just overtaken with emotions when I finally saw her walking down. The most beautiful woman in the world that I've ever seen before," he said.