Brain-Dead Woman Kept Alive For 54 Days So She Could Deliver Baby Before Dying

According to Fox News, a brain-dead woman was deliberately kept alive 54 days, so she could deliver a baby at Methodist Health System in Omaha. Doctors in Nebraska prolonged the life of the woman, and she delivered a baby boy named Angel. Angel weighed just 2 pounds, 12.6 ounces at birth.

More than 100 doctors, nurses, and staff kept Angel's 22-year-old mother Karla Perez alive after she was declared brain dead. Doctors had hoped to keep the mother alive long enough to deliver her baby at 32 weeks, but when Karla's condition began deteriorating two weeks ahead of the target date, Angel was delivered via an emergency cesarean section on April 4.

Sue Korth, vice president and COO of Methodist Women's Hospital, made an announcement about the successful procedure.

"Our team took a giant leap of faith. We were attempting something that not many before us have been able to do."
Perez complained of severe headaches before collapsing in her home in Waterloo, Nebraska on February 8. It was later determined that the cause of her headaches was because of a brain bleed. Perez suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and knew from a young age that pregnancy would be difficult, but she and her partner wanted another baby.

Perez had given birth to a healthy girl three years ago, and doctors didn't expect any major problems this time.

Dr. Andrew Robertson at the Methodist Women's Hospital made the decision to keep Karla alive so the baby could be born. His goal was to keep Karla alive until the baby developed to 32 weeks, but after 24 weeks, Karla's condition began to deteriorate. Since the baby had not developed enough to survive outside the womb at just 24 weeks, doctors could wait no longer and delivered a baby boy at 30 weeks.

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Angel was placed in an incubator and fed through a tube. The baby's family surrounded Angel with his mom things thinking her scent will keep him comfortable.

The Washington Post reported that Karla Perez died two days after Angel was born. Karla's organs were donated to help others who were waiting for a transplant. Perez's legacy will live on through her liver, kidneys, and heart that were transplanted to save the lives of three people.

No one at Methodist Women's Hospital had ever had a case like this before. There have been only 33 documented cases since 1982 of brain-dead women being kept alive until they delivered babies. The last time a brain-dead woman in the U.S. delivered a baby was in 1999.

According to recent reports, Angel has been in the neonatal intensive care unit since birth. He is stable, but he remains on a nasal device and eats through a feeding tube. Doctors expect he will remain in the unit for another month.

[Image courtesy of Methodist Health System]