February 25, 2024

Brain-dead Portuguese woman gives birth

Kept alive on a ventilator for nearly two months

Catarina Sequeira

A Portuguese woman who has been “brain dead” since December last year gave birth to a son late last month. Twenty-six-year-old Catarina Sequeira, a canoeing champion who had represented her country, suffered a serious asthma attack at home on December 26 when she was 19 weeks pregnant. For 56 days a ventilator allowed her to breathe.

Doctors had hoped to deliver the baby at 32 weeks, but shortly before she reached their goal, her condition deteriorated and the child was delivered early by Caesarean section. Ms Sequeira was buried the next day.

The decision to keep the baby, named Salvador, alive in the mother's womb was taken after discussions with her family and the child’s father. Portugal also has a presumed-consent organ donation law.

“Being a donor is not just about being in a position to donate a liver or heart or lung, but also being in a position to give yourself so a child can live,” said a hospital spokesperson.

In 2016 another baby was born in Lisbon after surviving 15 weeks in his dead mother's womb.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge 

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