New mom’s or­gans to help more than 50

A heart trans­plant had given her an­other chance to live, but just hours af­ter giv­ing birth she died

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - LIND­SEY BEVER

NOT long af­ter Me­gan John­son gave birth, her hus­band posted a pic­ture on so­cial me­dia, wel­com­ing their daugh­ter into the world.

Years ear­lier, John­son had been di­ag­nosed with con­ges­tive heart fail­ure and given a new heart and an­other chance to live.

Her hus­band, Nathan, an­nounced early last Tues­day on In­sta­gram that “her heart worked per­fectly” dur­ing the de­liv­ery, and their daugh­ter, Eilee Kate, “in­tro­duced her­self quickly and smoothly. I am a rich man!!!”

For the next six hours, the John­sons loved their new­born.

“They were so ex­cited, they couldn’t sleep so they spent time with the baby and talked all morn­ing,” said Josh Wil­son, a friend of Nathan John­son, in a tele­phone in­ter­view on Fri­day morn­ing.

Then Me­gan John­son started ex­pe­ri­enc­ing com­pli­ca­tions and, by late morn­ing, she had died, Wil­son later wrote on a GoFundMe page.

John­son gave birth at about 2.40am on the Tues­day and, for the next sev­eral hours, “held, fed, and burped lit­tle Eilee,” Wil­son, Nathan John­son’s band­mate, wrote on the crowd­fund­ing page.

Then, at about 11am, Me­gan John­son died, Wil­son said.

“Need­less to say, Nathan is dev­as­tated,” Wil­son wrote. “There are no words for this, so I won’t re­ally say much more. Here is what I know: Nathan is a won­der­ful man and an amaz­ing fa­ther. He loves his daugh­ter dearly.”

Wil­son said Nathan John­son took his daugh­ter home on Wed­nes­day and has been “up and down” but sur­rounded by fam­ily mem­bers and close friends.

Wil­son told The Wash­ing­ton Post that he started the GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $345 000 (R4.5m) by Fri­day af­ter­noon, to get Nathan John­son, a Chris­tian mu­sic artist, “off the road. To buy him some time.”

It’s not yet clear what led to Me­gan John­son’s death. The Amer­i­can Heart Association warns that women who have had heart trans­plants could de­velop com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing preg­nancy. For ex­am­ple, im­muno-sup­pres­sive med­i­ca­tions could pose a risk to an un­born child and, af­ter the child is born, there is a greater risk of re­jec­tion for the mother. But it is not known what caused John­son’s com­pli­ca­tions.

In 2002, John­son, then 15, was a stu­dent and ath­lete at North County Chris­tian School near her home in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, ac­cord­ing to the St Louis Post-Dis­patch.

She played bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball and soccer un­til she un­ex­pect­edly lost her en­durance, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports and a blog post that ap­peared to be writ­ten by her fa­ther.

“I’d just fin­ished bas­ket­ball sea­son and I was start­ing soccer and I couldn’t walk up the stairs with­out get­ting out of breath; I couldn’t run the laps,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch in 2011.

John­son was di­ag­nosed with my­ocardi­tis, an in­flam­ma­tion caused by a virus that can lead to heart fail­ure.

She was given med­i­ca­tions and strict or­ders to give up sports, she said, but she sur­vived. But more than seven years later, John­son’s symp­toms re­turned, and she was di­ag­nosed with con­ges­tive heart fail­ure, ac­cord­ing to the blog post.

In 2010, the then-23-year-old un­der­went a heart trans­plant at Barnes-Jewish Hospi­tal in St Louis, ac­cord­ing to the St Louis Post-Dis­patch.

“I am ex­tremely grate­ful for her gift. How­ever, I am so sad­dened for the fam­ily that lost their dear loved one. I ache know­ing that I am here and she is not,” she later wrote on a blog, chron­i­cally her jour­ney.

“I have a part of that per­son in me,” she added. “I can feel her heart beat in my chest. It is a re­mark­able, yet dif­fi­cult feel­ing know­ing I am here be­cause of some­one else’s life. I ache for her. My heart is sad for her and her fam­ily. I truly hope one day her fam­ily will know how much I ap­pre­ci­ate her/ their spe­cial gift. I can never re­pay. I am for­ever grate­ful. Thank you.”

The year af­ter her trans­plant, she mar­ried Nathan John­son and moved to Nashville, she wrote online.

Over the years, John­son has spo­ken pas­sion­ately and pub­licly – both on her blog and to lo­cal news me­dia – about or­gan do­na­tion, telling the St Louis Post-Dis­patch a year af­ter her trans­plant: “I never thought about be­ing an or­gan donor un­til I needed one.

“That’s a huge thing in my life,” she added at the time. “It can save lives. It saved mine. It’s the gift of life.”

Wil­son, the fam­ily friend, told The Post that John­son’s or­gans are go­ing to more than 50 re­cip­i­ents. – The Wash­ing­ton Post.


GIFT: Me­gan, left, with Nathan and Eilee John­son. Me­gan, a heart re­cip­i­ent, died hours af­ter giv­ing birth to daugh­ter Eilee.

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