October 06, 2021
When the woman who saved her life passed away, a bride thought of a way to honor her and her family. She asked her organ donor's father to walk her down the aisle.
An emotional TikTok clip posted in 2019 raised awareness for organ donors and showcased a bride's thoughtful gesture. When Buffalo, New York resident Diana Donnarumma married Conlan Kreher, the day carried an extra special touch.
Daniel Donnelly Jr walked Donnarumma halfway down the aisle. He wasn't related to her, but he was a special man. When his own daughter passed away after a car accident in 2017, a brave decision made all the difference for Donnarumma.
INCLUDED IN HER BIG DAY
Donnelly's daughter, Heather, had decided to become an organ donor, and after she passed away, her death was able to give someone else life. She enabled an intestinal transplant for Donnarumma, who suffered from Dysautonomia.
This gave Donnarumma another chance at a long and healthy life. To honor Heather, she included her father in the big day. Their paths only crossed a year after the transplant when Donnarumma was permitted to contact the donor family.
GETTING TO KNOW THE DONOR
The donor family could decide if they wanted to accept the communication. Donnarumma's letter reached Donnelly, and they eventually started speaking telephonically. The bride-to-be cried for days upon hearing more about Heather.
Heather was days away from marrying the love of her life when tragedy struck. Her father never had the chance to walk her down the aisle. Since then, Donnarumma has made it her mission to raise awareness about organ donation.
WALKED HER DOWN THE AISLE
Donnarumma also asked her "donor father" if he would walk her down the aisle. He was honored and even shed a tear when he saw her in her wedding dress for the first time. He walked her halfway down the path before handing her over to her dad.
Donnarumma remembers the moment fondly and said she had butterflies in her stomach. Donnelly's tears touched her, and she knew his daughter's death was still very painful. She is happy to be like another daughter in his life now.
THE POWER OF TRANSPLANTS
Donnarumma spoke of her wedding day and said that she told Donnelly, "Heather's spirit was there with [them]." She added: "I was excited, anxious, sad about Heather, but immensely happy that in a few moments I would marry the love of my life."
Donnarumma continually advocates for organ donation and hopes her story will show people the power of signing up to be a donor. She is aware that, without Heather's decision, she would not be here today. She said: "[The] transplant gave me the life that I never thought I would have."
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September 17, 2021