Wedding Demonstrates the Power of Organ Donation

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Wedding Demonstrates the Power of Organ Donation

It’s a story that’s sure to bring a tear to your eye and a message to your heart. A Pennsylvania woman’s recent wedding is in the headlines with the focus not on the vows, but rather the first few moments of the ceremony. As reported by ABC News, Jeni Stepien was led down the aisle by a man she’d never met in person. However, this was no ordinary man. He came to the wedding to walk Jeni down the aisle because he is the recipient of her father’s donated heart.

courtesy ABC News

Jeni’s father, Michael, was murdered in 2006, and the family donated his organs. His heart was a fit for Arthur Thomas, a New Jersey father of four, who was within days of dying. Jeni’s father’s heart gave Arthur a new lease on life. During the wedding, Arthur suggested that Jeni hold his wrist, so she could be close to her father’s heart. She also touched his chest right before the pair split at the altar.

Organ donation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone is added to the waiting list for an organ every ten minutes. Each day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants. However, it’s estimated 22 people die each day waiting for transplants.

No one is too young or too old to become an organ donor. Those interested in signing up to be a donor, can begin at a state’s donor registry. In most cases, there are two options; people can express their wishes when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or they can go to a state’s donor registry website. After you express your wishes on your license or online, it’s best to tell your family of your choice as well.

Most people become organ donors due to a tragic accident, a stroke or a brain aneurysm. The care team does everything possible to save the patient’s life before even considering the option of organ donation. However, when the medical team determines it has no additional lifesaving options and the patient isn’t responding, a provider will perform tests to see if brain death has occurred. This means patients have no brain activity and can’t breathe on their own. If brain death has transpired, then organ donation discussion can begin.

Learn more about organ donation or sign up to become a donor in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. You can also talk to a UnityPoint Health primary care provider about your organ donation questions and concerns.