Sandra Pedro, a Portuguese woman, had been living with her son in the neighborhood of Bragadas, Portugal, for eight years. When she realized she was pregnant for the second time, Sandra went to the doctor.
Because of her medical history, doctors warned her of the enormous risks she faced for the pregnancy. Sandra had previously battled pneumonia, suffered from heart problems, and had even been in a coma. She also had undergone kidney surgery because of a tumor. Still, the 37-year-old wanted to be a mother again and decided to take the risk.
In February, a brain haemorrhage left her on the brink of death in the intensive care unit. At that time, Sandra knew the baby’s gender (boy), but she wouldn’t be able to continue watching her belly grow.
On February 20th Sandra was declared dead, but what happened next had never before been seen in Portugal, and remains very rare throughout the world. At the time of her death, the doctors ran one last echocardiogram and found out that the baby’s vital signs were good. His heart was strong and beating normally. The doctors were speechless.
Surprised by what they saw, the medical team decided to send the test results to the Hospital Ethics Committee of St. Joseph, in Lisbon. The committee, along with Sandra’s family and the family of Michael Angelo Faria (the baby’s father) agreed to continue the pregnancy to ensure the viability of the fetus.
The whole family was part of the process from the beginning, watching as a lifeless woman’s body was made to function by machines. It was a a distressing time for everyone, but the family had to remain strong. Even though Sandra had no more brain function and was declared clinically dead, there was still life growing inside of her.
Sandra became a living incubator, as her body kept her son alive. Keeping the mother’s body functional for so long and maintaining the uteroplacental circulation was a great challenge for the team of more than 80 people, who worked around the clock.
107 days later, the “miracle” happened: the baby was born after 32 weeks of gestation, at 5 lbs and with impressive vitals for a premature baby generated in the womb of a dead mother. A true phenomenon!
This was an unprecedented situation for the doctors involved, some admitting that they wept. Currently, the small baby is in perfect health. After the C-section, the machines were turned off and the mother’s body was delivered to the family.