Becky Turney had only exchanged messages online and a single phone call with Jacob Kilby, the man who received the heart of her late son, Triston Green, in a transplant on October 21, 2015.
The pair never met in person until last Friday—the date of Turney’s wedding, for which she had reserved an empty chair in memory of the 19-year-old son she lost nearly two years ago.
Moments before the start of the wedding ceremony, her groom, Kelly Turney, surprised his bride by organizing her first meeting with Kilby, who flew from San Diego to Alaska to be a part of their big day. After months of secret planning, Kelly successfully pulled it off by introducing the 21-year-old surprise guest as his sixth groomsman.
Along with marrying the man of her dreams, Becky was able to listen to Kilby’s heart with a stethoscope and feel her late son’s presence once again.
“I lost my mind. I squealed like a little girl. I jumped up and down. It was incredible,” Becky, 40, told the Today show on Tuesday. “I’ve never ever been surprised like that, like ever. I’m the girl who secretly unwraps all the Christmas presents under the tree and puts them back. So for him to pull this off was just incredible.”
The heartwarming moment was captured by wedding photographer and owner of Love Adventured, Amber Lanphier, who shared the images on Facebook. Lanphier’s post quickly went viral with her photo series getting over 100,000 shares and over 260,000 likes online.
“There really are no words, and that’s the coolest part because the pictures, they say it all,” Becky said.
Kilby was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and had undergone three heart surgeries before receiving his first transplant at age 2. But in 2015, his heart began to deteriorate. Shortly after, he had a heart attack and was placed on a transplant waiting list. In October of that year, he received Triston’s heart and the transplant was a success. Additionally, Triston’s other vital organs saved four more lives.
“Everyone has a legacy, but to see how Triston changed Jacob’s life is just incredible,” Becky said. “It makes you super proud.”