Woman Received An Organ From A Bride. Then Surprised Donor Family At Her Own Wedding.
The day of a wedding is an emotional day for everyone involved, the bride and groom, their family and friends, and everyone wants their big day to be perfect and as special as possible. However, one woman from Buffalo, after meeting Daniel Donnelly Jr had cried for two days straighter and later made the decision to let the stranger walk her down the aisle on her big day, knowing that it would be a special occasion for him. Why did she make the decision and what kind of connection did these two people who otherwise would have never met, have? Read on to find out this heartwarming story.
Heather Donnelly & Her Wishes
Back in 2017, 26-year-old Heather Donnelly was on her way to a friend’s birthday party when she was fatally injured in an automobile accident in which police were engaged in a high-speed pursuit of a suspect. As she was brought to the hospital it was revealed that the young woman was an organ donor, a fact her father Daniel had learned that very day. Given that in the USA alone there are around 110,000 men, women, and children who are on the organ donor list, awaiting a treatment that could save their life, and the fact that only less than 1% of deaths meet the specific medical criteria to be a donor, the doctors wasted no time and did what they could to make sure that they could help as many people as possible and thus fulfilling Heather’s wish of becoming a donor. How did this lead to a special moment several years later? Read on to find out.
Diana Donnarumma’s Life Saved
Donnarumma a Buffalo, NY native, has dealt with health issues from childhood but it wasn’t until early 2016 that doctors had diagnosed her with gastroparesis, which is an inability of the stomach to adequately push food further down the digestive tract. Later that very same year a surgical team had performed an ostomy on the young woman but it didn’t help. In 2017, after three surgeries in nine months, Diana had finally received a lifesaving transplant that she had been waiting for. When Heather had died, her small intestine and the right portion of her large intestine had been donated to Donnarumma which had made the woman one of 8 people who had received organ transplants from Heather Renee Donnelly.
Diana’s ‘Gut Feeling’
The transplant was a success and despite the fact that Diana still struggles with nausea and vomiting and that she will be on anti-rejection medication and steroids for the rest of her life, it is a big difference from her life before the lifesaving transplant. Fast forward to 2019 when her then-boyfriend Conlan Kreher had proposed to Donnarumma, the young woman had a, as she said it, “gut feeling, pun intended”, that she would get in touch with Heather’s father and ask him to participate in her own wedding. Though she had no idea just how much this would mean to him. Read on to find out.
Diana Getting In Touch With Heather’s Family
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. And so Diana’s letter went through her transplant center in Washington DC to a Texas organ donation center, which then, in turn, contacted Daniel. The man accepted the letter and he and Donnarumma later spoke on the phone, which the woman said had made her cry after she discovered what a wonderful person Heather was, especially after she learned that it was Heather’s decision to donate and that she had died just a few days before she was due to marry her own fiance, Beau.
Daniel Accepts The Offer
Having spoken with the man, and knowing that he was a single father who had raised Heather by himself since she was 1-year-old, and who had just missed out his chance to walk his own daughter down the aisle, Diana knew she had to get him involved in her own special day and so she asked him if he would be willing to walk her down the aisle, which Daniel accepted. Speaking with Brightside News he revealed that he was very honored that Donnarumma had asked him as he never got the chance to do it with his own daughter. Speaking about her decision the bride said that she tries to carry Heather’s spirit with her the best she can every day and that she felt that she needed, but also wanted to, give her father the opportunity to have this special day. What did the ceremony look like? Read on to find out.
Diana’s Special Day
The wedding took place on August 13th, 2021 at Salvatore Hospitality in Buffalo. As Diana told the Daily Mail, he cried the first time he saw her in her wedding dress. As she told reporters, before walking down the aisle with Dan she felt butterflies in her stomach, and once she saw him crying, she started crying herself, knowing how much he misses Heather and that he still struggles with the pain of her absence. As the ceremony started, Donnelly Jr. had walked Donnaruma into the main 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.
The Day For Daniel
As Donnelly Jr. later recalled speaking with reporters about the special day, he said that the wedding was beautiful with the dancing and the food. Though what had even made it more special for him, besides walking Diana halfway through the aisle, was the fact that so many people were telling him that they had heard such good things about Heather and especially “what she did to save Diana”. But of course, the day wasn’t easy for the man who raised his daughter alone, as he added that besides it being a beautiful day it was also very tough for him. But how else has Donnarumma honored Dan’s daughter? You can find out on the next page.
Diana Now Has A Future
It is nothing surprising that after so long having her future uncertain, Diana finally feels like she has something to live for after the transplant had turned out to be successful. And through it all, she is eternally grateful to Heather Donnelly and her decision to be an organ donor. Speaking with the Daily Mail about it all she had said that before the transplant she was physically and emotionally exhausted but now she has a future. Not she really gets to feel all the love of her friends and family, adding that without Heather, she wouldn’t have gotten married.
Ever since the transplant, Diana has honored Heather’s memory, hoping that her story will help others realize the power of organ donation, adding that without her decision she wouldn’t be where she is. Speaking with the Daily Mail, Donnarumma had said, “Death is a tragedy but transplant is a light of beauty in the midst of that tragedy. The transplant gave me the life that I never thought I would have.” While highlighting that these decisions are vital she urged people to think seriously about registering as organ donors and not making their family have to make the decision the moment when they are grieving.
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