Heart transplant survivor dies hours after giving birth

Posted at 9:34 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 21:34:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After giving birth to her baby girl, Megan Moss Johnson got to hold her daughter in her arms, feed her and burp her.

It was a celebration of new life for Johnson, who received a heart transplant seven years ago, and her husband, Christian music artist Nathan Johnson.

But the 31-year-old mother experienced complications and died just eight hours later of unspecified causes.

Johnson had a smooth delivery and got to greet daughter Eilee Kate just like any other mom, said her husband’s friend and Christian singer Josh Wilson.

“Nathan is devastated,” Wilson wrote on a GoFundMe page that he set up for the family. “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.

View this post on Instagram

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!!!

A post shared by Nathan Johnson (@iamnathanjohnson) on

Support quickly poured in for Nathan Johnson, and his daughter. As of Friday afternoon, more than $350,000 had been donated to help pay for food and bills.

“She loved people, loved her husband so much. She also had a great faith in Jesus,” Wilson told CNN of Megan Moss Johnson. “The sadness and the grief is very real, but we still feel that there is hope.”

‘The gift of life’

When she was 15, the Missouri native contracted a virus that led to myocarditis, a potentially fatal heart disease marked by inflammation of the heart. She needed a heart transplant at 23 because of later complications, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I never thought about being an organ donor until I needed one,” Megan Moss Johnson told the Post-Dispatch at the time. “It can save lives. It saved mine. It’s the gift of life.”

She wrote about her journey on her blog and in a book about her called “Megan’s Heart.”

A year after her transplant, she married her husband, Nathan, and moved to Nashville, according to CNN affiliate WSMV.

The birth of her daughter

Just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, the Johnsons became first-time parents.

“They were so excited after (their daughter) was born that they couldn’t really sleep,” Wilson told CNN. “They were giddy.”

Nathan Johnson posted a picture of the joyous moment on Instagram.

“Happy Birthday Eilee Kate Johnson,” he wrote. “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!!!”

But a few hours later, she started to experience complications, Wilson said. By 11 a.m., new mother Megan Moss Johnson was dead.

Team Johnson

Wilson said Megan had been a big supporter of organ donation since she herself needed a heart transplant.

“Her organs are going to save over 50 lives,” Wilson told CNN. “She’s going to change the lives of a lot of people because of that.”

He set up a GoFundMe page with the moniker “Team Johnson” aimed at raising $40,000. It has since raised more than eight times that.

As word spread, other Christian music artists expressed their support for Johnson, who releases instrumental music under the name Meaning Machine, He has also played guitar for big-name Christian artists including Grammy winner Francesca Battistelli and Mat Kearney.

“He is a gifted, kind, joyful, and hard working man who is going to make an excellent father,” Battistelli wrote.

Wilson said the donations will help ensure that Nathan Johnson doesn’t have to tour for the next six months while he adjusts to life with his newborn. The money will also help pay for daycare and, years from now, college for Eilee.

The funeral for Megan Moss Johnson will be on Sunday in St. Louis, Wilson said.