Sandra Pedro, successfully nutured her baby for 15 weeks after being declared brain dead
Doctors at at Lisbon Central hospital in Portugal delivered a healthy baby boy, Laurenco Salvador Fariah,, almost four months after his mother was declared brain dead due to a brain haemorrhage. In what is being described as a national record, and which could be a world first, the baby was delivered by caesarean on Tuesday, 15 weeks after his mother was declared brain dead on February 20.
Weighing in at just under five pounds and three ounces, the doctors said that the baby boy is apparently perfectly healthy. While the body of his 37-year-old mother was being kept alive mechanically, obstetricians monitored the foetus’s health, eventually deciding to carry out the caesarean section once he had reached 32 weeks of gestation, well beyond the minimal foetal viability phase of around 24 weeks.
The case tops other recent reported instances of foetuses surviving long periods in the womb after the mothers have suffered brain death. In January a boy was born in Poland after surviving 55 days inside his brain-dead mother, while in 2013 Hungarian doctors delivered a baby which was kept alive in similar circumstances for 13 weeks.
Miguel Fariah and partner Sandra Pedro before the stroke that took her life
“This is a record. It’s amazing,” “They were lucky that the mother hung in there all that time. Most women die in these situations. It is extremely difficult to keep the pregnant woman alive by mechanical means while ensuring that the foetus advances.”
When the woman was declared brain dead, doctors at the hospital assessed the health of the foetus and consulted with her family, who, they stressed, had the final say on whether to try to keep her body functioning to see gestation through.
“Following the opinion of the ethics committee and clinical management of that hospital, and a concerted decision by the mother’s family and the paternal family of the child, it was agreed to maintain the pregnancy up to 32 weeks in order to ensure the viability of the foetus,” a statement by the hospital said.
Laurenco getting his bit of ‘sunlight’ in his crib via uv rays
Laurenco. His father Miguel describes the tyke as a fighter ‘destined for great things‘
Once that initial decision had been taken, the hospital’s board of directors appointed a specific advisory council to monitor the situation comprising a member of the doctors’ college, a representative of the ethics committee, an obstetrician and the team looking after the woman in intensive care.
Miguel describes the circumstances of his pregnant partners’s passing. Miguel said they had dinner with friends and were playing cards.
“At around 5am she said, ‘I’m tired and going to bed’. Then I heard her crying in the bathroom and went to see.
“She said, ‘I’m going to die. My head feels like it is going to explode’.
“She was really crying hard. I put a cold towel on her head and lifted her to the bed. Our friends didn’t know what to do so I told them to call the ambulance. I kept talking to her but her eyes were rolling. When the paramedics arrived she was almost unconscious.”
The medical miracle team at t Lisbon Central hospital
The doctors carried out three examinations on Sandra before declaring her brain-dead.
Funeral arrangements started before her unborn baby’s heartbeat was found. “It was scary how close it came,” Miguel says.
“Now I just want Lourenco to have a normal childhood and be happy. He is already born with a strong personality because of the battle he had to get here.”
His birth, however, has had the added complication of a tug-of-love with the maternal grandparents.
They have reportedly gone to lawyers to get full custody, claiming Miguel said he could not look after his son.
Miguel said he was “surprised and disappointed” and denied ever rejecting little Lourenco.
“At first I was worried about my parental rights. I didn’t know if I would get time off to care for him,” he explains.
“I was told he could have problems and I didn’t know if I had the right conditions to look after a disabled little boy.”
“But he is healthy and I have now been told I am entitled to paternity and maternity leave.
“So I can stay at home to look after him until November or December.”
“I told Sandra’s parents that once I started work again they could take care of Lourenco during the day. We all need to stop this fighting as Lourenco needs love and to be cherished by all the family.”