A brain-dead woman whose body was kept alive by machines for 84 days so she could give birth died shortly after being taken off life-support systems, doctors said today.
The mother was taken off life-support systems at 9 p.m. today, 17 hours after her 3-pound, 11-ounce daughter was delivered by cesarean section, the woman's doctors at Roanoke Memorial Hospital said at a news conference.
The baby "appears to be an extraordinary, normal 3-pound, 11-ounce baby. She is a very appropriate size," said Dr. Robert Allen.
Dr. Arthur Garst, who delivered the baby girl, said he decided to go ahead with the operation after the mother's blood pressure started fluctuating rapidly. "What I had to decide was when the baby would be better off outside than inside," Garst said.
The doctors said they waited to take the mother, a 21-year-old West Virginia woman, off life support systems until her family could arrive in Roanoke.
The baby did not require any help with breathing, and that will "put us several steps ahead" to getting the baby home, Allen said. "It appears our only problem with this baby is nutrition." He said the baby will probably have to stay at the hospital for four to six weeks. The mother was admitted to the Roanoke hospital April 12. She was in a coma after suffering a large hemorrhage on the left side of her brain.
The case is similar to one in San Francisco, where a brain-dead mother was kept on life support systems 64 days until giving birth by cesarean section March 29. The Roanoke doctors said they talked to the physicians who handled the San Francisco case when the West Virginia woman was admitted.