August 09, 2016
A Pennsylvania woman whose father was murdered 10 years ago got a chance to feel his heartbeat on the day of her wedding last weekend.
Jeni Stepian's story has been shared far and wide since Sunday when she tied the knot in the Pittsburgh suburb of Swissvale. Her father Michael, a head chef at a restaurant, was 53 years old when a shortcut on his walk home put him in the path of Leslie L. Brown, who shot him in the head at close range. Brown was convicted of second-degree murder and is a serving a 40-year-prison sentence.
Stepian's organs were donated through the Center for Organ Recovery and Donation, which coordinated a transplant for Lawrenceville, New Jersey, native Arthur Thomas. A father of four, Thomas was on the verge of succumbing to congestive heart failure when Stepian's heart became available, according to The New York Times.
Jeni Stepian and Thomas kept up a steady correspondence for years before they met at last Friday's wedding. The idea to have him walk her down the aisle — to have a piece of her father present — came not long after Stepian's engagement to Paul Maenner, who encouraged Jeni to reach out to Arthur about it.
Fittingly, the wedding was held at St. Anselm Church, the same place where Jeni's parents got married.
Thomas, meanwhile, continues to advocate for fellow transplant patients as an advisor for the Lawrenceville-based Lives Saving Lives Club.