- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Susan Torres, a brain-dead Alexandria woman whose family’s struggle to keep her unborn child alive has attracted worldwide attention, gave birth yesterday to a baby girl.

Susan Anne Catherine Torres was born at 8:18 a.m. by Caesarean section, weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces and measuring 13 inches. She was 14 weeks premature, born in the mother’s 26th week of pregnancy.

This is just above the minimum of 25 weeks that a premature baby normally can survive outside the womb.

“There were no complications during delivery. The baby is doing well and is being monitored in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Virginia Hospital Center,” the family said in a statement released shortly after 5 p.m.

The baby’s uncle, Justin Torres, who has taken on the role of family spokesman in recent weeks, declined to elaborate beyond saying the family will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. today at the hospital.

Left unknown was the fate of Mrs. Torres, 26, who collapsed May 7 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by advanced melanoma, a form of cancer. Although the mother was brain-dead, the family kept her on a respirator to prolong the pregnancy as long as possible.

In earlier interviews, Justin Torres and his brother Jason, Mrs. Torres’ husband, said that if her cancer began shutting down vital organs, the hospital would deliver the child immediately. They also said that, once the baby was delivered, the machines keeping Mrs. Torres alive would be disconnected.

Although hospital spokeswoman Kristen Peifer refused to discuss the status of the mother, she said at about 7 p.m. that the family remained at the hospital.

Paul Chaim Schenck, executive director of the National Pro-Life Action Center and an adviser to the Torres family, said that “with the news of little Susan’s birth comes the immense grief that her mother, Susan, will soon leave us for her heavenly reward.”

“Her valiant struggle to survive long enough to deliver her baby daughter is a deeply moving illustration of the force of love and the sacredness of life,” Mr. Schenck said before ending his statement with a prayer for “the soul of Susan Torres,” that she may, “through the mercy of God, rest in peace. … Amen.”

The Torreses, who are part of a large family in Northern Virginia, also have a 2-year-old son, Peter.

Carole Long, Mrs. Torres’ former work boss at the National Institutes of Health, said none of the mother’s co-workers had been told the birth was imminent.

“Oh wow,” she said. “I thought they were going to wait for a week or two” to deliver the child. “It’s a little small, but I’m glad she’s in reasonable shape for a premature baby.”

Justin Torres told The Washington Times two weeks ago that the family hoped to delay the birth until next week at the earliest and maybe until early September.

The family has set up a fund and a Web site, www.susantorresfund.org, to raise the estimated $1 million in costs to keep Mrs. Torres alive and to pay for neonatal care for the child.

In an interview in early June, Jason Torres told The Times he was hoping the baby would make it until at least 25 weeks.

“And it’s quite likely the child will not make it at 15 weeks premature,” he added, but if she does, “then I’ll be raising a premature child and a 2-year-old son — alone.”

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