Healthy Baby Born From Brain Dead Mother

by Wesley J. Smith

With so many expressing disgust over a Texas hospital maintaining a brain dead woman named Marlise Munoz because she was pregnant, I became aware of a remarkably similar case last year that had a much happier ending. (See You Tube imbed above.) From the 11/13/13 Daily Mail story:

A baby which was 15 weeks old when its mother was declared brain-dead was delivered by Caesarean section at 27 weeks, after doctors kept the mother alive on life support. The Hungarian doctors who delivered the baby in July believe the birth is one of only three such cases in the world…

In the spring, she had been rushed to hospital, operated on but was declared brain-dead. She was kept on life support and doctors were able to see through an ultrasound that the foetus was moving. ‘In the first two days we struggled to save the mother’s life and it was proven… that circulation and functions stopped,’ said Dr. Bela Fulesdi, president of the University of Debrecen Medical and Health Science Centre.

This is how the media sow confusion in stories such as this. If the woman was brain dead, she was not “kept alive.” I prefer to say she was kept viable–as when organs remain viable for transplantation.

The baby was delivered when her body began to deteriorate, which almost always happens with an accurately determined death by neurological criteria:

While they were hoping to keep the baby in the womb as long as possible, in the 27th week, the woman’s circulation became unstable and doctors decided to deliver the baby because the womb was no longer safe.

The story says the baby eventually went home and is doing fine. This is a remarkable occurrence: Good on the Hungary doctors.

No two cases are alike, but it was an example of what many hoped could mitigate the Munoz tragedy. Alas, it was not to be.