An organ donation recipient offered up a loving gesture on her wedding day when she asked her donor’s father to walk her down the aisle.
Diana Donnarumma, 28, from Buffalo, New York, made the wholesome offer to Daniel Donnelly Jr., whose daughter, Heather, had died in a car accident in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2017.
An intestinal transplant from Heather helped save Diana’s life, as she was previously in intestinal failure due to the progression of her Dysautonomia, also known as autonomic dysfunction.
A year after the transplant, Diana was allowed to reach out to her donor’s family, who are given the option to either accept or deny the request.
Diana’s letter went through her transplant center in Washington, D.C., to a Texas organ donation center, which then contacted Daniel.
Daniel accepted the letter, and he and Diana later spoke by phone, which, Diana said, caused her to cry for two days straight, having discovered what a wonderful person Heather was.
In the years since Diana has tried to raise awareness of Heather’s life and organ donation through her social media pages, and she and Daniel eventually met in Illinois, where Daniel lives.
There, he told Diana that it was Heather’s decision to donate, and how his daughter had passed away just a few days before she was due to marry her own fiancé, Beau.
Knowing that Daniel, a single parent, had not had the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle on her big day, Diana later asked if he would do her the honor, which Daniel accepted.
On August 13, at Salvatore Hospitality in Buffalo, Daniel cried as he first saw Diana in her wedding dress, before walking her into the main room for the reception.
There, he gave Diana over to her biological father, Glen, who walked his daughter the rest of the way so that she could marry her husband, Conlan Kreher, 30.
Speaking of the moment, Diana said: “Before I walked down the aisle with Dan, I felt butterflies in my stomach.
“When he first saw me in my wedding dress he cried.
“Once I saw him crying, I started crying.
“He misses Heather so much and struggles with the pain of her absence.
“He said he was honored to walk me down the aisle and is so happy to have another daughter now.
“I told Dan, that Heather‘s spirit was there with us and she was happier than ever.
“We hugged each other before we went out.
“But I felt every emotion in the book: I was excited, anxious, sad about Heather, but, immensely happy that in a few moments I would marry the love of my life.
“I hope people can realize the power of organ donation. Without Heather’s decision, I would not be here today.
“Death is a tragedy but transplant is a light of beauty in the midst of that tragedy.
“Transplant gave me the life that I never thought I would have.
“These decisions are vital.
“I ask that people think seriously about this.
“Don’t make your family decide at the moment when they are grieving.”
Story via T&T Creative Media