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Brain-dead woman gives birth, then dies

A brain-dead woman kept alive artificially for more than two months gave birth to a premature baby girl, doctors at a Milan hospital said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A girl born prematurely last week to a brain-dead woman in a Milan hospital was breathing well Monday, but doctors cautioned that it would be at least a month before the newborn could be considered out of danger.

“The baby girl’s clinical condition is stable. It’s a good sign,” said Dr. Stefano Martinelli, head of the neonatal ward at Niguarda hospital. “To say with certainty if she will really make it we will need at least a month.”

“She’s breathing well. She doesn’t need oxygen,” Martinelli told reporters.

Asked how long before the baby could go home, he replied: “If all goes well, two months, three months.”

The baby, named Cristina after her mother, was born Saturday by emergency Caesarean section, two months premature and weighing about 1.5 pounds.

Martinelli said the baby on Monday weighed about 1.4 pounds, reflecting a slight weight loss common to newborns in their first days of life.

Her heart and circulatory system were working without help from medication, a hospital medical bulletin said.

“It’s as if she wants to justify all that has been done to bring her into this world,” Martinelli said.

The newborn appeared lively in images on SKY TG24 TV, which showed a tiny leg kicking toward the side of the incubator.

Cristina’s mother had been kept alive artificially for nearly three months. Doctors decided to do the delivery Saturday after the woman’s blood pressure plunged and the fetus experienced heart rhythm problems.

The 38-year-old woman was hospitalized in March after suffering the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm, and she was soon declared brain dead. The woman spent 78 days in a brain-dead state.

A few hours after the birth, the machinery artificially keeping her alive was shut off. The woman’s kidneys and corneas were donated for transplant, the hospital said. Her liver was donated to another patient at Niguarda hospital, news reports said.