Emotional moment bride walks down the aisle with the man who has her dad’s heart

By Litaletu Zidepa
12 August 2016

Her dad was murdered in 2006 – but his heart was there on her special day.

It is a bittersweet wedding tale, one that has touched hearts all over the world.

In 2006 Jeni Stepien’s father Michael, a chef, was walking home from work when he was shot by a teenager during an attempted robbery in Swissvale, outside Pittsburgh in the US.

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With father on his death bed, the family had to to “accept the inevitable”, Jeni (33) told The New York Times, and they decided to donate Michael’s organs.

Their decision saved one Arthur Thomas's life.

“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,” the father of four from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, told the newspaper.

The now 72 year old was so grateful he wrote a letter to Michael's loved ones, thanking them for their selfless decision.

Since then, Arthur, who is affectionately known as Tom, kept in touch with Michael's wife Bernice -- but this year, he received an unusual request from Micheal's daughter Jeni.

Read more: Give the gift of life — everything you need to know about becoming an organ donor

The primary school teacher had become engaged to engineer Paul Maenner (34), in October last year. “One of my first thoughts in that following week was, ‘Who will walk me down the aisle?’ ” she said.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, it would be so incredible to have a physical piece of my father there’.”

It was her husband-to-be who suggested she contact Tom.

Tom agreed, and the bride met him for the first time the day before her wedding. During the emotional meeting, Tom suggested she grip his wrist to feel his pulse.

Read more: ‘My son’s death saved 6 other people’

And for the first time in ten years, Jeni felt her father’s heart beating.

“I thought that would be the best way for her to feel close to her dad,” Tom said. “That’s her father’s heart beating.”

The following day, Tom escorted Jeni down the aisle, something Tom said he felt deeply honoured to do.

“What greater honour 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 honour.”

“I felt wonderful about bringing her dad’s heart to Pittsburgh, if I had to, I would’ve walked.”

Sources: Pittsburgh.cbslocal.com, Nytimes.com, BoredPanda.com, Facebook

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