Mom of 4 who died after giving birth donates 12 of her organs: ‘We’re all proud of her’


Jesse Thorson(MEDFORD, Ore.) — A mother of four who died suddenly, just days after giving birth, donated 12 organs that could help save a dozen lives.On Dec. 29, Kathleen and Jesse Thorson of Medford, Oregon, welcomed their fourth child, a boy named Teddy.On Jan. 3, Kathleen was rushed to the hospital after suffering intracerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding inside her brain. Her husband said she appeared otherwise healthy and that the cause was unknown.Doctors performed a craniotomy, a surgical operation to the skull, but Kathleen died a few days later. She was 34.Although Kathleen’s family is grieving, her husband told “Good Morning America” that the organ donation provided a moment of positivity amid the tragedy.”I’m glad my kids will know their mom for doing that,” said Thorson, who’s dad to Danny, 7, Gracie, 6, James, 4 and Teddy, 3 weeks. “My 7-year-old told his third grade class that his mom has ‘helped people."””As we get to know more about that process … recipients who receive [Kathleen’s] organs, it’s something that will be continually lifting us,” Thorson told “GMA.”He shared the story of how he and Kathleen met — on the first day of high school.”I was a junior. I put my foot in my mouth, and we’ve been together ever since,” Thorson recalled.”We never spent a minute apart,” he added. “We had 14 years and used every minute of it … there are no regrets of how we spent the time, just about the amount of time we had.”Kathleen held a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho, and both she and Thorson completed their graduate studies together abroad at University of Kent in Canterbury, England.The couple married Sept. 1, 2006.”When our son Danny was born [two weeks premature], she asked if it was OK if she was ‘just a mom.’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ That’s when I decided to become to a nurse. She wanted to be at home with her kids. That was her chosen career,” he recalled.Thorson said Kathleen loved being outside, taking walks enjoying nature. She also loved to bake pies.As a person, Kathleen was very accepting of everyone around her, Thorson added.”I don’t know if she ever met someone she couldn’t find a way to love and care about,” he explained. “Her heart was wide open. … Her heart and her kindness and her willingness to love, I’m making sure that’s in every crack of my home and learning how to do all the things that she did while I was at work.”On Jan. 8, family friend Richard Stubbs launched a GoFundMe page in honor of Kathleen. Over $120,000 was raised to help cover medical bills and funeral costs.Stubbs told “GMA” that he and his wife, Janae, truly loved Kathleen and that they will be with Thorson and the kids “for the long haul.””Jesse has amazed us again and again,” Stubbs said. “He has remained calm despite his crushing grief, and he has been able to respect the wishes that Kathleen shared with him long before tragedy struck, that should anything happen to her, her organs should be donated to save others.”Thorson said the overwhelming amount of emotional support speaks volumes to how much Kathleen was adored.”I feel like my wife collected an army of people similar to her, with very giving spirits, and that has been evident in the last couple of weeks,” he said.Nearly 114,000 people in the U.S. are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant, according to the American Transplant Foundation — and a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.Thorson said Kathleen always knew she was an organ donor. Kathleen’s parents and sister were also on board with her decision. Thorson said he’s looking forward to learning more about the recipients of his wife’s organs.”It’s an education I’ve never wanted,” he added, “but it’s something we’re all proud of her for.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.