A tiny baby girl born Tuesday morning to a brain-dead Alexandria woman is unexpectedly healthy despite being born 13 weeks premature, a team of exuberant doctors at Virginia Hospital Center said yesterday.
“At 27 weeks, statistically, she has an excellent chance,” said Dr. Donna Tilden-Archer, the director of neonatology at the Arlington hospital. “She kicked so vigorously, I almost lost an IV I was putting into her foot.”
Although the mortality rate for children born that early is 10 percent, she added, the 1-pound, 13-ounce Susan Anne Catherine Torres is breathing on her own.
Plus, the placenta was free of the cancer that killed her mother, Susan Torres, 26.
Mrs. Torres had been kept alive on life support since she collapsed May 7 of a brain hemorrhage caused by advanced melanoma. She died yesterday morning, about 24 hours after giving birth, after husband, Jason Torres, told the hospital to disconnect her life support.
Just before she died, family members gathered by her bed to sing “Hail, Holy Queen,” a prayer from the rosary, and for Last Rites.
“We were ‘mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,’” said Justin Torres, the mother’s brother-in-law, quoting the hymn. “That is what today was for us.”
The Rev. Paul Scalia of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, the Torres’ home parish, had already baptized the child. He performed the Last Rites for the mother.
Doctors said the birth could be a historic first, as there were no known cases of a brain-dead woman — who was also stricken with melanoma — producing a child.
“I think it was a very unique situation,” said Dr. Christopher McManus, the physician coordinating the mother’s care. “That combination [of brain death and melanoma], I’m not aware of any others like that.”
By Monday night, doctors said, the mother’s condition appeared to be deteriorating fast.
A tumor atop her kidney was growing quickly, her heartbeat was getting irregular, and her blood pressure was rising, as was her white-blood-cell count, signifying an infection.
Plans were made to deliver the child at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Jason Torres was called in, as were his wife’s parents, Paul and Sandy Rollin.
As Mrs. Torres was wheeled out of the intensive-care unit into an operating room, they waited nearby.View Entire Story
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