By Guest Nicole
Wouldn't that constitute "touching the unclean thing" and not "getting out of her"?
By Guest Nicole
Kory Bradshaw says he was in a Toronto ICU with only months left to live when he got the phone call from doctors about getting a long-awaited double-lung transplant.
Bradshaw, who has Cystic Fibrosis, didn’t hear anything for months after having gone through two false alarms since being put on the wait list for a transplant last May.
“Third time’s a charm,” Bradshaw told Global News Monday.
He and his wife, Renee Bradshaw, came to Toronto from their home in Kelowna, B.C., last January with the hope of receiving a transplant faster due to the better wait times in the city.
The average wait time in B.C. is about two years, but in Toronto it’s around six months.
After receiving the transplant over four months ago, Kory said he feels “amazing” now.
“We can have a whole new life together, doing a lot of things that people might take for granted like walking and holding hands,” he said, adding he still has to get used being able to laugh properly.
That new life together will also include a new modular home for them when they move back to Kelowna at the end of the month.
In a cruel twist of fate, while Kory was in the ICU at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto in June, they received a call that their B.C. home was destroyed in a fire.
“They believe it was from a discarded cigarette that caught our cedar hedge on fire, which spread in the shed into our house,” Renee previously said.
Friends and neighbours quickly rallied to help them. Beth Shey, a neighbour they hardly knew, started a GoFundMe page to help them with living expenses while they were waiting for the transplant in Toronto.
The couple said the new modular home should be delivered by the time they get back and should be move-in ready by late January.
Kory underwent his transplant at Toronto General Hospital, which does about 150 lung transplants every year.
But Kory’s situation was unique. Since he and Renee are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and because of their beliefs, a blood transfusion was not possible. The couple said they searched for years but no surgeon would agree to attempt a bloodless transplant until they found Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, who agreed to perform the procedure as long as the couple understood the risks.
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By Guest Nicole
Jeni Stepien with Arthur Thomas after he walked her down the aisle at her wedding last Friday. CreditLauren Demby
It’s a bittersweet wedding story a decade in the making: Nearly 10 years after Jeni Stepien’s father was killed, the man who received her father’s donated heart traveled from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to walk her down the aisle.
“The murder and the wedding happened within a three-block radius” in the town of Swissvale, Pa., Ms. Stepien, an elementary schoolteacher, said in an interview on Monday, as she was about to board a plane for her honeymoon. “And I was just thinking, ‘My dad is here with us, and this man is here with us because of us.’ ”
Bride Walks Down the Aisle With Man Who Was Saved by Her Father's Heart Donation Video by ABC News
This story began in September 2006, when her father, Michael Stepien, was walking home from his job as head chef at a restaurant. Mr. Stepien, 53, was cutting through an alley when he was robbed at gunpoint by a 16-year-old, who shot him in the head at close range, she said. Leslie L. Brown was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing and is serving 40 years to life in prison, according to news reports.
As her father lay dying at a hospital, Ms. Stepien said, her family “decided to accept the inevitable” and donated his organs through an organization called the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.
The organization allows donor families and the recipients to keep in touch with one another after the transplant. Mr. Stepien’s heart went to Arthur Thomas, a father of four who lives in Lawrenceville, N.J., and who Ms. Stepien said had been within days of dying.
Given a diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia about 16 years before receiving the transplant, Mr. Thomas, 72, said in an interview on Monday that he was in congestive heart failure when word arrived that his doctors had found a heart.
“In order to get to the top of the transplant list, you have to be really hurting,” Mr. Thomas said. “Once I had my transplant, I, of course, decided I would write a thank-you to the family.”
From there, a relationship was forged through monthly phone calls, emails and letters. Ms. Stepien’s mother, Bernice, kept in touch with Mr. Thomas, even swapping cards on Christmas and flowers on birthdays. At times, they compared parenting tips. But the families had not thought about meeting in person until Jeni Stepien, 33, became engaged to Paul Maenner, a 34-year-old engineer, in October.
“One of my first thoughts in that following week was, ‘Who will walk me down the aisle?’ ” Ms. Stepien said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, it would be so incredible to have a physical piece of my father there.’ ”
At her fiancé’s suggestion, Ms. Stepien wrote Mr. Thomas, whom the family calls Tom, asking him to walk her down the aisle. Mr. Thomas said yes, but only after running the proposition by his 30-year-old daughter, Jackie, he said.
“She said, ‘I think it’s a wonderful idea,’ ” Mr. Thomas said of his daughter, who also recommended that he start practicing walking down the aisle. (He said he practiced once before the wedding.)
Mr. Thomas, a retired college adviser who formerly worked at a boarding school in Lawrenceville, warned Ms. Stepien that his emotions might get the best of him.
Ms. Stepien said she felt the same, and told him, “I’ll be right there with you.”
The wedding took place on Friday in the church in Swissvale where Ms. Stepien’s parents were married. Mr. Thomas and the bride formally met one day earlier, when he suggested she grip his wrist, where his pulse is strongest.
“I thought that would be the best way for her to feel close to her dad,” Mr. Thomas said. “That’s her father’s heart beating.”
At the church, the bride was photographed touching Mr. Thomas’s chest. At the reception, they danced together, and guests mingled with Mr. Thomas and his wife, Nancy. The two families say they want to keep in touch and will plan a get-together somewhere down the road — maybe an event with a little less pressure.
“I felt wonderful about bringing her dad’s heart to Pittsburgh,” Mr. Thomas said. “If I had to, I would’ve walked.”