Even when you think you get a second chance, life can be very cruel to you. Life was harsh and unpredictable for 31-year-old Megan Jonson, who died just hours after giving birth to her first child. Instead of welcoming her new role as a mother, Meg’s situation worsened and nothing could be done. She delivered her daughter, Eilee Kate, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on Tuesday, June 25, at 2.40am. Although she had a pretty smooth birth, the heart transplant survivor died the same day around 10 am. Her organs have been donated, and by Thursday afternoon, the family’s GoFundMe account, which started with a goal of $40,000, had rocketed to more than $295,000 to help the family, father Nathan, and baby Eilee.
Hours after Eilee was born, Nate posted this photo on Instagram, with the caption: ‘Happy Birthday Eilee Kate Johnson. Megan was/is a professional and feels great. Her heart worked perfectly the whole time and Eilee introduced herself quickly and smooth. I am a rich man!!!’
Megan, 31, contracted a virus in 2002 at the age of 15, which led to myocarditis, a potentially fatal heart disease. After years of medication, doctors put her on the transplant list. Her case became critical in 2010, when she was 23, when she caught pneumonia. Doctors told her family she needed to get the transplant within a week to survive. Then, within hours, a suitable heart was found for her. Megan was only 23 when she underwent a heart transplant in Ferguson, Missouri.
She met Nathan, known as ‘Nate’ to his friends, and they married in 2012. They moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where Meg worked at Vanderbilt Medical Center and Nate produces music, occasionally touring with his friend Josh.
Her pregnancy went smoothly, and doctors said everything was well. Even after the birth, the parents spent time with the baby, talked to her, and smiled. Nate’s friend, Josh Wilson, said there were no sings of a premature or compicated birth.
‘Eilee’s due date was July 5,’ he said.
‘Nate and I played a show in Dallas on Sunday, then came back. They went into hospital on Monday for a check-up and doctors decided she should be induced. By Tuesday, Eilee was born at 2.40 in the morning. It all went smoothly. They were just so happy. Eilee is so beautiful. Nate said they were just so happy and sat together talking and looking at Eilee for hours and hours. Everything was normal. All their family went home to rest.
‘Then between 9 and 10 she started having complications and the doctors rushed in and within about an hour she had passed. It was totally unexpected, I can’t stop crying. No one saw it coming,’ he said.
Megan was also an advocate for organ donation, and she will save 50 lives and help two people see via transplants.
Josh adds more details about his friend Nate:
‘He’s up and down. He’s doing ok. Meg was so excited for baby Eilee and spent her whole pregnancy preparing for her, so she gave him a good start. We’re all just trying to spend as much time with him and Eilee as possible, all doing shifts at the house. It’s unbelievable what’s happened.
He also has something to say about Meg:
‘Meg was such a sweet person. She loved people. Most of all she loved Nate. They just loved each other so much. Their favorite thing to do was to spend time with each other, sitting and talking, or sitting and not talking… Just being together. She grew up in St Louis, with a big community there. Her family was very active in the community and in the church. She was so loved.’
Josh explained that his main motivation for starting a GoFundMe page was to give Nate some financial support that would allow him to take some time off performing on the road.
Nate, who is a Christian musician who produces his own instrumental music which is availabale on his website MeaningMachineMusic.com. He has experienced some success locally as a solo artist, but also earns his income by playing for other bands.
The cause of Meg’s death is still not clear. Women who have suffered myocarditis, as Meg did, are at high risk of peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), an incredibly hard-to-spot and uncommon form of heart failure.
PPCM can occur during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth. Symptoms can be very similar to typical third-semester problems, which make diagnosis more difficult. PPCM enlarges and weakens the heart chambers, which leads to less blood flow in the left ventricle and the heart can’t pump blood to vital organs. Doctors recommend that women avoid cigarettes and alcohol, eat a well-balanced diet and get regular exercise to keep a healthy heart.