Local Heart Recipient To Officiate Wedding For Donor’s Sister

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

MEXIA (March 27, 2014) A Mexia biker pastor and heart recipient will be performing a special wedding this weekend.

James Murphy, 50, will head to Franklin, TX Saturday to perform the wedding ceremonies for his heart donor’s sister.

In 2010, Murphy’s health began to decline. He had already fell victim to a number of strokes and had been in and out of the hospital frequently.

At one point, doctors told him his heart was operating at 3%, and that he needed to have a transplant. Murphy was put on a waiting list, and grew tireless.

“It was hard, I would sit in the hospital every day and see those helicopters flying in, and every time I would wonder if that was my heart coming for me,” Murphy said.

In January of 2012, Murphy declined further hospitalization after not receiving a new heart for months.

Accepting his ultimate fate, Murphy preached his own funeral that month at his church. But on January 9th, things swiftly changed.

“I was called by Scott and White in Temple and they told me they had a heart for me and I needed to get to surgery right away,” Murphy said.

Murphy ended up being the hospital’s 5th ever transplant. After his surgery, his health began to improve.

“Being able to breathe again and get up and not be totally worn out, felt like a good spring day like today,” Murphy said.

Murphy didn’t know who gave him his new heart until his donor’s family reached out to meet him.

Turns out, Murphy received his new heart from Irving resident Ricky Mata, 32, after he died from a sudden brain injury.

According to Mata’s sister Jeanette Reyes, Murphy and her family hit it off and have stayed in close contact since their first meeting.

“It was remarkable to hear my brother's heart beating inside him," Reyes said.

"That really hit me, and I was like ‘can I just stay right here forever with you and listen to that?’”

Reyes is getting married this weekend. Her family wanted Mata to be there, and thought the best way to make that happen was by having Murphy officiate the wedding.

“My brother was big on going to church so it’s kind of ironic that his heart went to a minister," Reyes said.

Murphy says he wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he’s paying it forward to the family of the man who saved his life.

"Even though Ricky's body is not there, they’ll be able to feel the beat of his heart during that wedding,” Murphy said.

"I'll be there before anybody else gets there, and I'll be last to sweep up the floor when they leave."


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