Brain-dead Canadian woman gives birth

Cross-posted from BioEdge

A brain-dead woman in British Columbia has delivered a baby, more than six weeks after she suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage. Robyn Benson, 32, collapsed on December 28 when she was 5 months pregnant. Her husband Dylan asked that she be kept alive on a ventilator long enough so that her son Iver could be safely delivered.

This contrasts with a parallel case in Texas in which a 33-year-old pregnant woman was declared brain-dead in November. However, the family of Marlise Muñoz sued to have her taken off life support. They alleged that it was against her wishes to survive on life support and that the foetus was not viable.

On February 8, Iver was delivered by Caesarean section 12 weeks prematurely. Robyn was taken off life support and her heart stopped functioning the next day.

Mr Benson kept the world posted on the state of his wife and son in a series ofemotional blog posts. He also asked friends and readers for donations to cover the enormous cost of medical care. His goal was C$36,000, but he has raised at least $160,000.

According to media reports, there have been about 30 cases of “posthumous motherhood”. Caring for a brain-dead patient on a ventilator is not easy, a specialist told the New York Times. A complex mix of drugs and hormones is needed to maintain blood pressure and keep the heart beating.

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