In what is as beautiful a tale as it is bittersweet, a bride who received an organ transplant asked the donor’s father to walk her down the aisle.
Daniel Donnelly Jr had hoped to do this with his own daughter, Heather, on her big day. However, tragically she died in a car accident before saying ‘I do’ to her fiancé.
After the accident, in a parallel world, Diana Donnarumma was in need of a life-saving intestinal transplant due to intestinal failure from dysautonomia (which affects the nervous system).
Unknown to Heather, she was about to save Diana’s life.
In 2018, the year following the transplant, New Yorker Diana was allowed to contact her donor’s family who could then decide whether they accepted or denied the request.
Touchingly, Daniel accepted the letter, which paved the way for his relationship with Diana to blossom, later speaking by phone and eventually meeting when she visited him in Illinois.
As they grew close, and upon learning that Daniel was unable to walk Heather down the aisle, Diana asked if he might like to do her the honours instead.
Fast-forward to 2021, and Daniel did exactly that, accompanying Diana down the aisle before passing her over to Diana’s biological father, Glen, who walked her the rest of the way.
Speaking of the tear-jerking moment, Diana said: “Before I walked down the aisle with Dan, I felt butterflies in my stomach.
“When he saw me in my wedding dress he cried. Once I saw him crying, I started crying.”
She continued: “He misses Heather so much and struggles with the pain of her absence. He said he was honoured 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.
“I hope people realise 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.”
Incredibly, an organ donation can save up to nine lives.
For info on how to sign-up as a donor, click here: Organ Donation.