When you donate an organ after your death, you can give someone else the gift of life — an incredible gesture. Mom of four Kathleen Thorson did a lot more than this. When she died after falling ill suddenly earlier this month, doctors were able to donate 12 of her organs to people who desperately needed them.
Thorson, from Medford, Oregon, gave birth to her fourth child, son Theodore, on Dec. 29, per a GoFundMe page set up in her memory. After three weeks, the campaign has raised more than $120,000 (far surpassing the original $50,000 target and the stretch goal of $95,000) for Thorson’s husband Jesse and their children: Danny, Grace, James and baby Teddy.
Thorson was rushed to the emergency room when she suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage less than a week after Teddy’s birth. Despite several surgeries, doctors were unable to save her.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is a pregnancy complication that causes maternal strokes. It is most common during the third semester or post-partum period, according to a study presented at the 2019 American Journal of Neurology Annual Meeting. Risk factors include hypertension and preeclampsia/eclampsia. However, in this case the cause was unknown.
“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.”
The GoFundMe page describes Thorson as “mother extraordinaire,” “bringer of love, life and magic” and “giver of goodness and hope.” Those things are certainly true, because thanks to her wish to help others in the event of her death, she donated an almost unheard-of 12 organs, including her heart and lungs. “The nurse told Jesse the chances that someone is a candidate of this magnitude is less than 1 in a million,” Stubbs wrote.
Actress Kristen Bell shared Thorson’s story on her Instagram page and revealed that a Year of Hello Bello Bundles — including diapers and wipes — was going to Jesse (Bell’s baby line, Hello Bello, runs a weekly “Tuesday of Giving”).
“Jesse – our thoughts are with your family during this unimaginably difficult time,” Bell wrote in the caption. “Sending peace and love your way.”
The touching tribute to Thorson on the GoFundMe page urges people to be a bit more like her: “Look for the hand of God in your life every day,” Stubbs wrote. “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.”
Thanks to the GoFundMe donations, Jesse will be able to cover medical costs, funeral expenses and lost earnings. Stubbs revealed on the campaign page that any extra money raised will go towards Thorson’s dream of building a garden for her children.
And thanks to Thorson’s gesture, several people have another chance of life. What a beautiful way of turning a family tragedy into hope!