Kathleen Thorson hoped that by giving up her organs after death, her tragedy would become another person’s hope for life.
That wish, though bittersweet, came true. Doctors were able to donate 12 of her organs to other patients in need, including her heart and her lungs after she suddenly fell ill earlier this month during what should have been one of the happiest times in her life.
Kathleen, from Medford, Oregon, gave birth to her fourth child, son Teddy, on December 29, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up for her husband, Jesse Thorson, and their children — Danny, Grace, James and the new baby.
Less than a week after her son’s birth, Kathleen “was rushed to the emergency room” when she suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage. Despite several surgeries, doctors were unable to save her.
“Kathleen’s condition deteriorated to a point that she could no longer survive,” wrote Richard Stubbs, the organizer of the GoFundMe campaign. “As was her wish, we are doing everything we can for her to be the prayed-for miracle of life for certain others in need of organ donations.”
“There aren’t many words to be said except that we love her, and we will miss her with every breath we take,” he continued on the GoFundMe page. “Through all of this hardship, her love, life, and magic are still felt.”
Following her death, it was revealed that “Kathleen will be able to provide the prayed for miracle for nearly a dozen individuals who are waiting anxiously for an organ donation.”
“The nurse told Jesse the chances that someone is a candidate of this magnitude is less than 1 in a million,” Stubbs added. “But anyone who knew Kathleen already knew that.”
Kathleen’s story was brought to the attention of actress Kristen Bell‘s baby line, HelloBello, and the family was highlighted in the company’s weekly Tuesday of Giving and awarded a year’s supply of wipes and diapers.
“Before she passed earlier this month, Kathleen said she wanted to save as many lives as possible and donated an almost unheard of 12 organs, including her heart and lungs,” Bell wrote in an Instagram post honoring Kathleen. “Jesse – our thoughts are with your family during this unimaginably difficult time. Sending peace and love your way.”
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As of Tuesday evening, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $96,000 for the Thorson family’s medical costs, funeral expenses, and to make up for Jesse’s lost wages — far surpassing the original target of $50,000 and the stretch goal of $95,000.
Stubbs added on the campaign page that the extra money raised will go towards another one of Kathleen’s dreams: to build a garden for her children.
“At this point, every little bit extra will help Jesse pay off bills and work toward dreams he and Kathleen had of making a beautiful garden in their back yard. This was to be a space that Kathleen could teach her children about her love of gardening, invite friends over for fun events, and live her ‘hobbit’ dreams,” Stubbs wrote, referencing J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy novel.
“Be a little more like Kathleen,” Stubbs urged those who are touched by her story. “Look for the hand of God in your life every day. Love people. Cook them tasty food. Enjoy the beauty of your ordinary life. Go on adventures. Read poetry. Take calming baths. Wear soft clothes. Sing. Grow things. Grow people. Grow dreams. Find out who you are and be the best You that you can be.”