PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Jeni Stepien waited ten years for this day. On the eve of her wedding day, she finally met the man who’s now living with her father’s heart.
It was a meeting filled with emotion for Jeni and the entire Stepien family. Jeni’s father, Michael Stepien, was murdered in Swissvale back in 2006.
His organs were donated, including the heart Arthur Thomas had been waiting 16 years for. On Friday, Jeni felt her father’s heart beat for the first time in 10 years.
“I’m so excited. The whole family is here now. It’s like everybody is here,” she said.
Thomas and his wife traveled to Pittsburgh from New Jersey to be there for the big day. Everyone gathered at St. Anselm church in Swissvale, where the ceremony will take place.
“We’ve been talking to him and writing letters and calling and receiving flowers and sending gifts for the past 10 years and now it’s finally here,” Jeni Stepien said.
“Just hugging him made me feel like I was close to my dad again which on this day was perfect. It was what I needed,” said Michelle Stepien, the sister of the bride.
There’s even more to this special meeting.
“Jeni wrote me a letter and she said ‘Dear Tom, I’m the daughter of the man who’s heart is inside of you and I’m gonna get married on August 6th,'”Thomas said. “‘And one further thing if you’re willing, would you walk me down the aisle?'”
He got the okay from his daughter, and the rest is history.
“First person I’ll ever be walking down the aisle,” he laughed.
“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 said.