Biker Pastor Receives Heart Transplant From Bride’s Brother
IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – An Irving couple planning to marry on Saturday shares a very special bond with their minister.
Pastor James Murphy is the recipient of a heart transplant, and the organ donated came from the bride’s brother.
Jeanette Reyes lost her brother, Enrique “Ricky” Mata in January of 2012. The 32-year-old died in the hospital, from a severe sinus infection. Within hours, his family had to make the choice of whether to donate his organs.
“My brother was big on going to church, having a rosary. It’s kind of ironic that his heart ends up going to somebody who is a minister,” said Reyes.
Mata left behind four children: three daughters and a son. He was also engaged to be married. His fiancée, Monica DeLaRosa, wears his ring on a necklace around her neck.
Mata’s mother, Beatrice Hood, remembered her son speaking about organ donation once before, and agreed to follow through with his plans. Mata’s heart, and kidneys were donated to people on the organ transplant waiting list.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t know if I’ve accepted the fact that he’s gone, grieved enough,” said Hood.
Months after Mata’s death, his family connected with the man who received his heart.
James Murphy is a married father of one daughter. He pastors a biker church on Sundays, called the Iron Horse Gathering, in the central Texas town of Mexia.
Murphy was at the losing end of a battle when he received the transplant that turned his life around.
“It was from dark to light, that quick,” Murphy said. “To be able to breathe again, and then get up and walk – it was like a good spring day like today,” Murphy said.
When Reyes and her fiancé, Anthony Palmer decided to get married in March, they knew exactly who to ask to officiate the ceremony, which will take place in Franklin.
“I asked him, ‘Would you do us the honor of marrying me and Anthony?’ He said, ‘I’d be honored to,’ and I said, ‘No, we’d be honored,” said Reyes.
Standing at the alter with Murphy blessing her union, Reyes says, she knows will feel special. Her brother’s heart will be there.
“To know that my brother’s heart will be beating up there, in somebody who he saved and who desperately needed it,” said Reyes, adding the feeling is unbelievable.
Murphy says he wouldn’t be anywhere else that day.
“I’ll be there before anybody else gets there, and I’ll be the last one to sweep up the floor when it’s time to leave,” the pastor said.
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