A REAL TEARJERKER
An Alaskan woman gets to feel her son’s presence on her special day
Pass the Kleenex! Find out how a bride is able to hear her late son’s heartbeat at her wedding — and see the emotional pics
Becky Turney’s dream wedding was set to go off without a hitch. On a picturesque farm in Anchorage, Alaska, in July, the nearly 250 guests had settled into their seats and the bridesmaids and groomsmen were in place. But just as the ceremony was about to begin, the groom, Kelly, unexpectedly let go of Becky’s hands and set off down the aisle. “I was irritated,” Becky recalls. “I was like, ‘Get back here, we’re getting married!’” Little did she know, Kelly had stopped the wedding to introduce a very special guest. Addressing Becky and their friends and family members, Kelly explained that while Becky’s late son, Triston, who had died at 19, could not be there, Jacob Kilby — the man who had received Triston’s donated heart in October 2015 — was in attendance. “I was overcome with joy,” Becky, a 911 operator, tells In Touch. She had exchanged a few Facebook messages with Jacob but they’d never met face-to-face. Now her son’s heart had made its way home. “When Jacob came forward, I threw my arms around him and just hugged him.” The touching scene was captured by the Turneys’ wedding photographer; a Facebook post featuring some of the photos garnered 5 million views in one night alone. “Having Jacob there,” says Becky, “was the best wedding gift ever.” The surprise reunion had been stealthily orchestrated over months by Kelly. Becky, 40, “doesn’t ask for anything; she doesn’t need for anything,” says Kelly, 45, a retired police officer who owns an antique shop near their home in Wasilla, Alaska. (Becky has another daughter, Paige, 13, from her previous marriage, and Kelly has a daughter, Maddy, 15, from his.) “She’s not the kind of woman you can go to the store and buy a wedding gift. So I thought, ‘ What could be the best gift that I could give?’”
There wasn’t a dry eye at the ceremony. “Even the people who knew about the surprise cried,” says Kelly. One especially poignant moment came after the “I do”s, when Jacob presented Becky with a stethoscope so she could listen to her son’s heartbeat. “It was incredible,” says Becky, who declined to discuss the nature of Triston’s death. “Nothing short of amazing to hear my son’s heart beating again.”
Becky and Kelly plan on remaining close to Jacob. “It’s amazing how well he fits in with our family,” Becky says of the 22-yearold, who was born with a heart condition and works for a smartwatch company in San Diego. She and her daughter, Paige, are planning to visit him this month. And together, Becky, Kelly and Jacob hope to spread the word about the importance of organ donation. “I wouldn’t be here without Triston,” says Jacob. “I want Becky to know I respect the gift I’ve been given, and that I’ll always take care of it.”
— Reporting by Melissa Roberto
AMAZING MOMENT At her July 7 wedding, Becky met the man who, in 2015, had received her late son’s donated heart. She even got a chance to hear her son’s heartbeat. “Having him there provided so much comfort and healing to our family,” she says.