Doctors in Nebraska prolonged the life of a brain dead woman for 54 days so she could deliver a baby boy named Angel.
Karla Perez, 22, died two days after the delivery, the Washington Post reported late Friday. Angel weighed just 2 pounds, 12.6 ounces at birth.
The last time a brain-dead woman in the U.S. delivered a baby was 1999, the paper said.
Baby Angel was delivered earlier this month at Methodist Health System in Omaha.
The hospital said a team of more than 100 doctors, nurses and staff kept Angel’s 22-year-old mother Karla Perez alive for 54 days — just long enough to deliver the baby via cesarean section.
“Our team took a giant leap of faith,” Sue Korth, vice president and COO of Methodist Women’s Hospital, said in a statement Thursday announcing the successful procedure. “We were attempting something that not many before us have been able to do.”
Perez collapsed in her home in Waterloo, Nebraska, on Feb. 8 after complaining of severe headaches. Doctors later determined she had suffered a brain bleed.
With her baby at just 22 weeks — too young to survive outside the womb — “it was then that we had decisions to make,” said Dr. Andrew Robertson at the Methodist Women’s Hospital.
Doctor’s had hoped to sustain Perez long enough to deliver her baby at 32 weeks, but the young woman’s condition deteriorated two weeks shy of the target date so Angel was delivered on April 4.
Angel was in an incubator and feeding through a tube, the hospital group said Thursday. “We are cautiously optimistic,” said neonatologist Dr. Brady Kerr.
The baby is still in NICU and his family surrounded him with his mom’s things hoping that her scent will keep the baby comfortable.
As for Karla, her organs helped save three people who were waiting for a transplant.