[Paleopsych] NYT: Brain-Dead Woman's Fetus Passes Milestone in Development
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Thu Jul 21 20:58:12 UTC 2005
Brain-Dead Woman's Fetus Passes Milestone in Development
[What medical knowledge will be gained from this? Is that knoweldge worth the
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RICHMOND, Va., July 20 (AP) - A brain-dead pregnant woman on life
support has passed the milestone in her pregnancy where doctors
believe the baby could realistically survive outside the womb, giving
her family renewed hope.
The woman, Susan Torres, 26, lost consciousness from a stroke on May 7
after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain.
Her husband, Jason Torres, said doctors told him his wife's brain
functions had stopped.
Her fetus recently passed the 24th week of development, the earliest
point at which doctors believe the baby would have a reasonable chance
to survive, said her brother-in-law, Justin Torres.
"The situation is pretty stable," said the brother-in-law, who is
serving as the family's spokesman. "Susan, we have said from the
beginning, is the toughest person in that I.C.U. room."
He said that a sonogram suggested that the baby is a girl, and that
Cecilia was one possible name the couple had discussed before the
A Web site set up by the family - www.susantorresfund.org - has
helped raise about $400,000 in donations to pay the mounting medical
bills, Justin Torres said.
Jason Torres quit his job as a printing salesman to be by his wife's
side, and the family must pay tens of thousands of dollars each week
that insurance does not cover, the family says.
Donations have poured in from around the world: Germany, Britain,
Ireland, Japan, even a check with no note from a soldier in Iraq.
On Monday, the family received a hand-knit baby blanket from a woman
in Pennsylvania who was on a tight income but wanted to help.
Jason Torres spends every night sleeping in a reclining chair next to
his wife's bed at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, about 100
miles north of Richmond. The hospital has declined to comment on the
The couple's 2-year-old son, Peter, is staying with grandparents. He
has not seen his mother, a researcher at the National Institutes of
Health, since her collapse.
If possible, the doctors hope to hold off on delivering the child
until 32 weeks' gestation, Justin Torres said. A full-term pregnancy
is about 40 weeks.
"She would have wanted us to fight for this baby - there's no doubt in
our minds," he said.
Ms. Torres's melanoma has spread to lymph nodes and taken over her
vital organs, but they continue to function. There is a chance the
cancer could spread to the placenta, but so far it has been spared,
the brother-in-law said.
Extra precautions, including limiting the number of visitors, have
recently been taken to help her avoid infections.
Doctors have delayed giving the family a prognosis because the
situation is so rare, said Mr. Torres, who said he believed his
sister-in-law was likely to hang on for a few more weeks.
Since 1979, there have been at least a dozen similar cases published
in English medical literature, said Dr. Winston Campbell, director of
maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Connecticut Health
Center, which conducted research on the topic.
The family received an unexpected sliver of joy on June 21, when Jason
Torres felt his baby kick for the first time.
"It was a very, very nice reminder of what this is all about, and very
heartening to us to know that we're making progress and that we're
getting closer and closer," Justin Torres said. "That was a very good
day for everyone."
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