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

"I'm glad my kids will know their mom for doing that."

January 23, 2020, 3:39 PM

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 that prior to the birth, Kathleen appeared otherwise healthy and the cause of the hemorrhage was unknown.

Doctors performed a craniotomy, a surgical operation to the skull, but Kathleen died a few days later. She was 34.

PHOTO: Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four, is seen in an undated photo with three of her children, Danny, 7, Gracie, 6 and James, 4.
Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four, is seen in an undated photo with three of her children, Danny, 7, Gracie, 6 and James, 4.
Jesse Thorson

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 hisfirst grade class that his mom has 'helped people.'"

PHOTO: Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Jesse Thorson

"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.

PHOTO: High school sweethearts Kathleen and Jesse Thorson of Medford, Oregon, married Sept. 1, 2006 and later started a family.
High school sweethearts Kathleen and Jesse Thorson of Medford, Oregon, married Sept. 1, 2006 and later started a family.
Jesse Thorson

"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.

PHOTO: Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Jesse Thorson

"When our son Danny was born [six 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.

PHOTO: Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four from Medford, Oregon, died suddenly just days after giving birth.
Jesse Thorson

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."

PHOTO: Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four, is seen in an undated photo with her daughter Gracie, 6.
Kathleen Thorson, 34, a mother of four, is seen in an undated photo with her daughter Gracie, 6.
Jesse Thorson

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."

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