Brain Dead VA Woman Dies After Giving Birth

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

August 3, 2005

It's been a bittersweet day for the family of a brain dead Virginia woman. Just one day after giving birth to a baby girl, the woman has been taken off life-support and has died.

"We're thrilled by the baby, but this is a very difficult day," said Susan Torres' brother-in-law, Justin Torres.

Just 24 hours after giving birth to 1 pound, 13 ounce Susan Ann Catherine officials at a press conference at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington announced that 26 year old Susan Torres was taken off life support and died.

"Her husband Jason Torres made the decision this morning to withdraw the artificial life-support systems," explained one doctor in a press statement.

Torres had been brain dead for almost three months after suffering a stroke brought on by brain cancer. She was four months pregnant at the time.

Her husband, Jason, asked doctors at the hospital to keep her on life support, hoping the baby would develop and be able to survive. On Tuesday, August 2nd, Baby Susan was delivered by cesarean section at 27 weeks.

"It was a wonderful day to see Baby Susan, to hear her, and to watch her," said Justin Torres.

As the cancer continued to spread through her body, doctors felt if they waited any longer, the baby would be at greater risk. So far, she seems to be doing well.

"She's breathing on her own. She's just receiving some supplemental oxygen, and some supplemental pressure that helps to keep the tiny air [passages] open. She remains very vigorous," said neo-natal ICU doctor, Donna Tilden-Archer.

Torres' family is hoping that vigor will continue until Baby Susan is in the clear and can go home. And they know that idea is far from impossible.

"If you [would have] told us on May 7 that we would be here today, we would have told you [that] you were crazy. So we know the risks. We were aware of them from the beginning, and we're just going to continue to go," said Torres.

Baby Susan will continue to be closely monitored and should stay at the hospital for at least the next three months. This was not Susan's first child. She had her son Peter two years ago.

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