According to the Daily Mail, an Italian mother who was declared brain-dead in October has given birth to a baby boy nine weeks after doctors agreed to keep her on a life support machine to save the child. The physicians used a rare technique where they use equipment to control the woman’s breathing and maintain her blood flow, while a tube to her intestines fed the growing baby.
The mother was 36-years old and suffered a brain hemorrhage that left her clinically brain dead. Doctor’s delivered her baby via cesarean section when she reached the 32nd week of pregnancy and the child weighed approximately four pounds. Currently, the infant is in good health and a medic at the hospital said, “Behind this joy, we can’t forget the pain the family is feeling over the loss of this young woman.”
A similar story out of Ireland is stirring controversy because doctors decided to keep a young pregnant mother on life support against her family’s wishes. A court eventually ruled the hospital culd shut off life support for a pregnant mom, which claimed the life of her 18-week-old unborn baby.
The mother is in her twenties, 18-weeks pregnant and doctors had decided to keep her on life support to give her unborn child a chance at life after she suffered a traumatic brain injury on November 29 after a fall. The woman’s parents wanted her to be taken off life support immediately and they took legal action to force the hospital to remove the woman from life support.
Ironically, the High Court issued the ruling terminating the unborn baby’s life by saying it was in the best interest of the child.
The court claimed that the pregnancy could not be supported further to the point where the baby would be born.
Yet, just last month, a baby was born in Hungary after another very rare circumstance in which his brain-dead mother was kept alive for three months so he could be born. The mother remained on life support longer than would be necessary in the Irish situation.
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In the case in Hungary, a baby boy was delivered via Cesarian section to a mother who was declared brain dead in October. The case is not totally unique and another one like it occurred in Hungary in 2013 of a baby born to a mother who was on life support.
Additionally, in the United States, we’ve seen cases emerge where unborn babies have died because family members refused to keep their loved ones on life support. For example, in 2014 a Texas hospital decided not to appeal a judge’s decision to allow a husband’s bid to remove his brain-dead pregnant wife from life support, an action that would end the life of his own unborn child. The woman, Marlise Munoz, collapsed in her home from a blood clot in her lungs when she was 14 weeks pregnant with her second child.
Initially the hospital refused to grant the husband’s request because of Texas’ Advance Directives Act, which reads, “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.” But after the judges decision, the hospital followed the court order. Although it is true that not all cases involving brain-dead pregnant women result in the birth of a healthy child, doctors and family members should give unborn children a chance since their lives are just as valuable as their mothers.