On July 7, 2017, Becky Turney showed up for her wedding to Kelly Turney, but she was unaware that she would be welcomed by an unexpected visitor
who would add even more special memories to the occasion. In remembrance of her son Triston Green,
who died in 2015 at the age of 19 from an unintentional gunshot wound, Becky set aside a chair during her wedding.
There was a card on Triston’s chair that said:
‘It’s my wedding in paradise, so what should I do? I’ll spend it with you here on Earth.
So please, just one empty chair; reserve me a place. I may not be visible to you, but I will be present.
Becky was unaware of the true significance of those remarks until her groom’s surprise was revealed.
As an organ donor, Triston had five organ transplants, including a heart transplant, to save lives.
As it turned out, Kelly had flown Jacob Kilby—the recipient of Triston’s heart—covertly from California to Alaska, where he was concealed among his groomsmen.
Kilby was invited to the wedding by Kelly after the two struck up a few months earlier. Kilby and Becky
had never met in person, but they had spoken over the phone and even exchanged messages online.
Kilby’s presence was announced by one of the attendees just prior to the ceremony commencing.
The speaker began, ‘What many of you might not know is that Triston was an organ donor and that was his choice.
One of the young guys who received his heart is present today. And by doing so, it gave us the opportunity to meet some really great folks.
When the young man approached Becky, she sobbed and screamed, hugging him tightly after being shocked by the news.
‘I went insane. I exclaimed in a childlike manner. I leaped to my feet. I had the best time ever, Becky told TODAY.
Everyone was moved by the sweet exchange between the two strangers connected by Triston’s gift and started crying a little. Love Adventured, the wedding photographer, wasn’t left out.
She posted on Facebook, according to Huffpost:
‘Nothing prepares you for the beauty of this moment, even though I knew about this surprise.’
She posted photos from the wedding, one of which showed Becky using a stethoscope to listen to Kilby’s heart.
‘The most incredible surprise ever… without a doubt the best gift.’ I appreciate your concern for Triston’s heart. Kilby was thanked by Becky for coming.
She said to NBC News as well:
‘He literally carried my son’s heart to my nuptials. That is simply incredible.
Becky was impressed by Kelly’s ability to pull off the surprise without even hinting at it. Kelly, who had been her companion for seven years, said the following to the BBC:
‘I started preparing her surprise with Jacob four or five months ago. What a wonderful young man he is.
It was Jacob’s second heart transplant on October 21, 2015. He underwent three cardiac surgeries after being born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
At the age of two, he underwent his first transplant. But in 2015, his heart began to fail, necessitating another transplant.
There have been no problems for him since he received his replacement heart.
His Instagram is devoted to his current mission of encouraging more people to donate their organs.
It’s Triston’s heart that keeps me here, he said.
Along with trying to spread the word about organ donation, Becky and Kelly are also committed to forging
strong bonds with the other recipients of their son’s organs, which she described as ‘healing.’