SWISSVALE, Pennsylvania -- Jeni Stepien waited 10 years for this day. On the eve of her wedding day, she met, for the first time, the man who now lives with her father's heart.
It was a meeting filled with emotion for her and her entire family.
Jeni Stepien's father, Michael Stepien, was murdered back in 2006. He donated his organs, including the heart Arthur Thomas had been waiting 16 years for.
On Friday, she felt her father's heart beat for the first time in 10 years.
"I am so excited. It's like the whole family is here now. It's like everybody's here," Jeni Stepien said.
Thomas and his wife traveled to Pittsburgh from New Jersey to be there for Jeni Stepien's big day. Everyone gathered at St. Anslem Church in Swissvale, where the ceremony was expected to 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," said Jeni Stepien said excitedly.
"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," added sister Michelle Stepien.
However, there was even more to this special meeting.
"Jeni wrote me a letter, and she said, 'Tom, I'm the daughter of the man whose heart's inside you, and I'm going to get married on Aug. 6. One further thing, if you're willing, would you walk me down the aisle?'" Thomas shared.
Thomas got the OK from his daughter, and the rest was history.
"First person I'll ever be walking down the aisle," Thomas said.
The soon-to-be bride said it was just like having her dad there on her wedding day.
"And just better because we get to share this story with other people," she added. "And, you know, other people see that organ donors do matter."