Video: Pregnant mom in coma

updated 6/17/2005 10:31:25 AM ET 2005-06-17T14:31:25

A brain-dead woman is being kept on life support in hopes that her 21-week-old fetus survives, and the woman’s husband said he is certain that’s what she would have wanted.

Jason Torres said doctors believe the fetus could have a chance if Susan Torres lives another month and her cancer stays away from her uterus.

He said he decided to keep his wife on life support when doctors at Virginia Hospital Center offered him the chance to disconnect the machines after concluding she would not recover.

“I hate seeing her on those darned machines, and I hate using her as a husk, a carrying case, because she herself is worth so much more,” Torres said in an interview in Thursday’s USA Today. “But Susan really wanted this baby. And she’s a very — how should I put this? — a willful lady. That’s probably why she’s made it this far.”

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Hospital officials are not discussing the case, the newspaper reported.

Fetus appears to be thriving
Susan Torres, a 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, lost consciousness from a stroke May 7 after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain. Jason Torres said doctors told him his wife’s brain functions have stopped.

Torres said the fetus appears to be thriving, but his wife’s doctors have told him they know of no cases in which a brain-dead mother with melanoma has delivered a baby.

If his wife and her fetus live until mid-July, or about 25 weeks’ gestation, the fetus could survive delivery, though with a heightened risk of brain damage and other problems, Torres said. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks.

“There’s not a glimmer of doubt in my mind that this is what she would have wanted,” Torres said. “Any chance at all to save the baby, and Susan would have said, ’Let’s go for it.’ “

Torres quit his job as a printing salesman and has moved into his wife’s hospital room. The couple’s 2-year-old son, Peter, is staying with grandparents.

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