Her son lost his life but gave many more a chance at their own
Losing a child would be the worst pain imaginable. Children aren’t supposed to die before a parent, that’s not the way it should happen.
One Alaska mother experienced the unbearable tragedy of losing her son and then reconnected with him on her wedding day — in the most surprising and beautiful way.
Becky Green of Wasilla, Alaska lost her son, Triston, in 2015 when he was just 19 years old. During her wedding ceremony, her now-husband, Kelly Turney, wanted to make sure her son was as much a part of their wedding as possible.
“I knew about this surprise but nothing prepares you for the beauty of this moment,” photographer Amber of Love Adventured wrote on her Facebook page. “I met a man named Jacob Kilby yesterday who is alive because of a heart transplant received from this brides son, Triston.” Because Triston couldn’t be there to watch his mother get married, her family made sure his heart was with them.
“Becky’s groom Kelly Turney, surprised her by flying Jacob up to Alaska to stand in as a groomsmen, carrying Triston’s heart,” Amber told Love What Matters. “Kelly stopped the ceremony to introduce Jacob to Becky for the first time.”
According to The Surf Channel, Kilby was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a heart defect “where the left side of the heart does not fully develop for blood to flow through the heart.” He’d had four failed open heart surgeries by the age of two. Fortunately, a compatible heart was able to be transplanted to him just in time, but that heart started to weaken. By 2014, Kilby was on the organ donation list once again to receive a new heart. Now he has Triston’s.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 20 people in the U.S. die every single day waiting for an organ donation. There are approximately 119,000 people currently waiting for a lifesaving organ. One donor has the potential to save up to eight lives.
“I had the pleasure of hearing Jacob share his gratitude and plans for a heart healthy life to Triston’s sister before the ceremony,” Amber wrote. “You couldn’t ask for a better recipient to receive such a gift.”
According to his obituary, Triston “donated the gift of life to five complete strangers through organ donation. It is no surprise that everyone who knew him said that he was their best friend. On that morning, five people gained a new best friend.”
Rose Beebe, Becky’s aunt, wrote to Amber of her pictures, “I think what you did in capturing such a special moment in her and Jacob’s and Becky’s lives is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t make it to the wedding but I am seeing it through your lens and I feel like I was there. Thank you so much for the contribution to the fabric of our family that has left us all weeping tears of joy.”
Becky Turney later wrote a note of gratitude on her Facebook page to all who made her wedding day possible. In it she thanked Jacob, “hands down the best gift … most amazing surprise ever!! Thank you for caring for Triston’s heart. Thank you for being here! Thank you thank you thank you!”