The miracle baby born to a woman 13 weeks after she ‘died’
Debrecen- HUNGARY A pregnant woman declared brain-dead after a major stroke was kept on life-support long enough to deliver a healthy baby, while her organs saved lives.
A WOMAN who experienced a major stroke gave birth to a healthy baby 13 weeks after she “died”.
The 31-year-old woman, who was 15 weeks pregnant, was at home when she started to feel unwell before suffering a devastating stroke.
The Hungarian woman was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery to reduce the build-up of blood in her brain but was declared brain-dead. But with her foetus still alive, her body was placed on a ventilator to keep the heart beating.
Brain death occurs when someone no longer has any activity in their brain stem which controls consciousness, awareness, breathing and the ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
But doctors hoped to bring the woman’s family some joy amid the tragedy of her sudden “death”.
Prof. Dr. György Balla at the University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Centre, in Hungary’s second city, told the Express Online: “When it became obvious that we wouldn’t be able to save her we realised we had another ‘patient’ who we could save, the foetus which was 15 weeks old at that time and perfectly healthy.
“We had to weigh up if we were capable of keeping the baby in its mother’s body until at least the 24th week. We also had to consider the chances the baby would have for a healthy, complete life.
“We only knew about a few similar cases in the world and the question was whether we were capable of dealing with the eventual problems through the months.
“We felt that after losing the battle for the mother’s life, we started a new fight for the baby. We all felt that if we could bring a healthy baby into the world, it would give the father and the family some solace.”
The medical team worked round the clock to maintain the woman’s circulation and hormone balance, as well as ensuring her body had suitable nutrition to nourish the foetus.
After the 20th week, the woman’s family named the foetus to further encourage the staff of the intensive care unit. But the unborn child had only just been given a name when the mother’s condition took a turn for the worse and she developed sepsis.
She was treated successful and Prof. Balla says, “We were lucky in a sense that the infection occurred in the second part of the pregnancy when the drugs wouldn’t harm the health of the baby so we could use the most effective medicine to treat our patient.”
Meanwhile, the nurses spoke to the foetus regularly and played the radio throughout the day so the unborn baby could hear human voices and music. While the father and grandparents stroked the mother’s belly and spoke to the unborn child.
A caesarean, which took place in July was scheduled for 27 weeks, the point at which the baby could be delivered safely. At 3lb 2oz the baby was transferred to the neo-natal unit and 10 weeks later discharged from hospital to join its family.
Following the caesarean, the doctors had to choose between two options. The first was to turn off the mother’s mechanical ventilation and cardiac support, which would have lead to her heart stopping.
However, the family wanted her death to save other lives so he body was kept on the ventilator for another two days as her liver, kidneys, pancreas and heart were removed from the mother’s body and offered for transplantation.
Two of the five organs were received by the same patient. Treating the mother thus enabled her own child to be born and also saved the lives of four other people, following her death.
Prof. Balla says, “The whole world is talking about our success, which is the acknowledgement of the determined and sometimes heroic job that we constantly do in our hospital.
“The fact that after 92 days of being brain-dead we could use the organs of the mother and, with the organs, we could save four other people’s lives is the evidence that the 21st century’s medical techniques are capable of saving the crucial organs in perfect condition long after brain death.”
It was the first case in the hospital’s history where a pregnancy was continued in a brain-dead woman for more than 90 days.
picture and video by: UNIVERSITY OF DEBRECEN MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCE CENTRE