Harrison County

Mom ‘absolutely positive’ prayers kept her daughter alive

Caitlin Johnson Irwin, who had a heart transplant April 26, enjoyed some fresh air outside Ochsner Medical Center and a visit with baby Patrick, born March 28. Also with her are, from left, father-in-law John Irwin Sr., father Conrad Johnson, husband John Irwin Jr. and mother Martha Loftus Johnson.
Caitlin Johnson Irwin, who had a heart transplant April 26, enjoyed some fresh air outside Ochsner Medical Center and a visit with baby Patrick, born March 28. Also with her are, from left, father-in-law John Irwin Sr., father Conrad Johnson, husband John Irwin Jr. and mother Martha Loftus Johnson. Courtesy of Johnson family

Caitlin Johnson Irwin grows stronger daily after giving birth to a baby boy, then having a heart transplant less than a month later.

Baby John Patrick Irwin III was delivered two months early, on March 28, after doctors diagnosed Caitlin with congestive heart failure. A little more than one week after she went on a transplant list, Ochsner Medical Center had a donor heart for the 27-year-old accountant from Gulfport. She got a new heart April 26.

“She’s getting stronger and she’s eating a little more every day, walking a little further every day,” said her mother, Long Beach teacher Martha Loftus Johnson. “Things are moving forward.”

Johnson said her daughter has only one tube left in her body, a line under her heart that drains fluid.

Irwin visits as often as possible with baby Patrick, who is cared for in New Orleans by his grandparents and father John Irwin Jr. She sits with Patrick in a garden outside the hospital, looking forward to the day she will get to return home and be a mom.

The family has been inundated with support — fundraisers, donations and prayers for Caitlin Irwin’s recovery. A YouCaring page had raised almost $87,000 by Tuesday afternoon, with donations also accepted for the Caitlin Irwin Medical Fund at Keesler Federal Credit Union.

Johnson said the family is “totally humbled” by all the support.

“Don’t stop praying,” she said. “I’m absolutely positive that’s what kept her alive.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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