Photo/IllutrationLos Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani holds 1-year-old Shohei Kawasaki in January, while the infant's mother, Shizuha, looks on. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

OSAKA--An infant cheered on by American League Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani died on March 10, even as preparations were under way for a trip to the United States for a heart transplant.

Shohei Kawasaki was given the name using the same kanji as the Los Angeles Angels slugger and starting pitcher, as his father, Taishi, was a huge Ohtani fan.

Ohtani held the 1-year-old boy at an Osaka hospital in January and offered his encouragement.

Shohei was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart, which makes it difficult for the organ to pump blood. The only way to completely treat the condition is through a heart transplant.

However, the infant's condition suddenly worsened from March 5.

His mother, Shizuha, 33, said: "We never dreamed that he would die. We believed deeply that he would be able to overcome any problems."

The parents had started a fund-raising campaign for the 350 million yen ($3.1 million) needed for the cost of the heart transplant as well as travel and other expenses. The goal was reached in late January, and the family was preparing for the trip to the United States.

A private ceremony among family members will be held in lieu of a funeral.

All the donations will be given to children in need of heart transplants.