When Karla Perez developed a terrible headache 22 weeks into her pregnancy on Feb. 8, she thought a nap might cure it. But the 22-year-old later collapsed and was taken to Nebraska's Methodist Women's Hospital where doctors discovered she had suffered a brain hemorrhage that left her clinically brain dead. Doctors then turned their attention to Perez's unborn son. For the child to have any hope of survival, the pregnancy needed to be prolonged to an absolute minimum of 24 weeks. Perez's family agreed to put Perez, already mom to a 3-year-old girl, on life support; a press release explains doctors were hoping to make it to 32 weeks. But "there is nothing in the books about how to provide medical care in this situation," says Dr. Todd Lovgren, one of the more than 100 people who contributed to Perez's care.
Indeed, since 1982 only 33 babies worldwide had been born of women on somatic support, and none in the US since 1999, NBC News reports. When Perez's condition took a dive 54 days later, on April 4, Angel was born via C-section, KETV reports; he was 30 weeks and 3 days. The 2-pound, 12.6-ounce newborn "had some initial respiratory struggles," a doctor says. But Perez's mother tells WOWT the baby is now on a feeding tube and is using a nasal devise to breathe. But "he's doing very well. He's growing and I'm very happy about it," she says. She adds she's thankful her daughter "left me two little seeds and part of her." Perez's brain death was confirmed two days after her son's birth; her donated organs went to four people. (Read how a hug brought a dying baby back to life.)