Mom, Brain-Dead for 55 Days, Delivers Baby Boy

The mother was pronounced dead shortly after the birth of her son at 26 weeks
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2016 7:17 AM CDT
Mom, Brain Dead for 55 Days, Delivers Baby Boy
In this file photo, a father holds the hand of his prematurely born son in a neonatal intensive care unit.   (Mike Spencer/The Star-News via AP)

A father has taken his infant son home from the hospital—three months after the child was born to a woman who'd been brain-dead for 55 days. According to Sky News, the pregnant 41-year-old had refused treatment for cancer so as not to harm the fetus, though the BBC reports that her brain tumor was incurable and Al Jazeera reports that she arrived at the hospital in Poland already brain-dead. But her heart was still beating, so a team of specialists took extreme care to allow the then 17-week-old fetus to grow. "It's rare to successfully maintain a pregnancy for so long," says Barbara Krolak-Olejnik, head of Wroclaw Medical University's neonatal unit. But the family wanted to try.

Anesthesiologists, neonatologists, gynecologists, and neurosurgeons all fought to keep the fetus alive in spite of infections and other "disorders" the mother was suffering, reports Ukraine Today. The goal was to make it to at least 25 weeks; 26 weeks into the pregnancy, 55 days after the mother had technically died, the baby's life was deemed at risk. He was delivered by C-section in January weighing just over two pounds, and the mother's life support was subsequently turned off. Now, three months later, after his father spent every day with him, reading fairy tales through an incubator as the infant's lungs developed, the baby is home. He now weighs more than 6.5 pounds and thus far shows "no complications." (Something similar happened in Nebraska last year.)

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