Popular Christian Writer Rachel Held Evans Dies at 37 After 'Massive Brain Swelling'

Rachel Held Evans, who was known for challenging traditional evangelical beliefs, died early Saturday morning

Rachel Held Evans. Photo: GoFundMe

Rachel Held Evans, a popular Christian author whose work rejected traditional conservative beliefs, died early Saturday morning after a lengthy hospitalization. She was 37.

In a statement shared on his wife’s website, her husband Dan shared that she died after being “slowly weaned from” her medically induced coma and experiencing massive brain swelling, which “ultimately was not survivable.”

“This entire experience is surreal. I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story,” he wrote, before thanking his wife’s friends, family and fans for their prayers and support.

“I cannot express how much the support means to me and our kids. To everyone who has prayed, called, texted, driven, flown, given of themselves physically and financially to help ease this burden: Thank you. We are privileged. Rachel’s presence in this world was a gift to us all and her work will long survive her,” he continued.

Evans was first hospitalized in mid-April.

On April 14, she announced on Twitter that she was in the hospital “with a flu + UTI combo” and had a “severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics” she had been given. At the time, she lamented that she wouldn’t be able to watch the Game of Thrones final season premiere live that night.

Several days later, on April 19, her husband gave his first update on his wife’s health, writing that while she was receiving treatment for an infection, Evans began “exhibiting unexpected symptoms,” which included “constant seizures.”

He went on to share that Evans had been put into a medically induced coma in the ICU as doctors worked to figure out the cause of the seizures.

In an attempt to help her family pay for the mounting medical costs, several of her friends created a GoFundMe page.

On April 28, two days after Evans had been transported to another facility, her husband wrote that doctors were working to “find a combination of medicines” that would allow her to be slowly “weaned from the coma medication.” Two days later, he shared that doctors had begun the process of bringing Evans out of her coma.

Dan’s next update came on Saturday, May 4, when he shared the sad news that his wife had died.

He wrote that since being weaned off her coma medication, his wife’s seizures had “returned” at a reduced rate, but she “did not return to an alert state during this process.”

But on two days before her death, his wife experienced “sudden and extreme changes in her vitals,” and doctors realized Evans was suffering from “extensive swelling of her brain.”

“The team worked until Friday afternoon to the best of their ability to save her. This swelling event caused severe damage and ultimately was not survivable,” he continued, adding that his wife died early the next morning.

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Throughout her career, Evans wrote four popular books, which challenged traditional evangelical teachings, such as the role of women in the traditionally patriarchal church as well as the inclusion of LGBTQ church members.

Born in Alabama in 1981, Evans moved to Tennessee as a teenager, eventually graduating from Bryan College, a small Christian school, according to Slate.

Following graduation, she began writing, and started her own blog in 2007, where she would document her spiritual journey, NPR reported.

Evans went on to leave the evangelical church in 2014, explaining in a blog post that she wanted to “focus on finding and creating church among its many refugees—women called to ministry, our LGBTQ brother and sisters, science-lovers, doubters, dreamers, misfits, abuse survivors, those who refuse to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith or their compassion and their religion.”

Two years later, she penned an op-ed for Vox about her decision to vote for Hillary Clinton, even though she herself was pro-life.

“I often vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place,” she explained.

Her last blog post was published on March 6, at the beginning of Lent.

Evans is survived by her husband Dan, as well as their two young children: a son, 3, and a daughter, who will turn 1 later this month, according to The New York Times.

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