A brain-dead mother in Brazil has been kept alive on life support for 123 days to deliver her unborn twins in a tragic case that has made medical history.
Frankielen da Silva Zampoli Padilha, 21, suffered a fatal stroke in October 2016 while nine weeks pregnant.
Her husband, Muriel Padilha, 24, was initially told her babies had three days to live, before doctors made the radical decision to keep them alive, after a faint heartbeat was detected inside their mother’s womb.
“They said as soon as their little hearts stopped beating, they would turn off the gadgets and I would be able to bury my wife,” he told Caters News.
“We did an ultrasound on the embryos thinking they would be failing in the womb but to our surprise they were clinging to life,” Nosso Senhora do Rocio Hospital head of neurological ICU Dr Dalton Rivabem said.
“Frankielen’s organs were all intact and working as if she was still with us. We took the decision to keep her alive to save her unborn children. And every day we watched them grow normally.”
Doctors ensured Ms Padilha’s body did not shut down throughout the four-month process, by monitoring her every day by administering medications and checking her blood pressure and flow.
“One of our main concerns was to keep the organ functions continual for the babies to grow and develop,” Dr. Rivabem said.
Mr Padilha, who also has a two-year-old daughter with Ms Padilha, said he came home from work to find her shaking, crying and vomiting from pain.
“As I drove her to the hospital she said ‘I want you to be prepared to accept this because I will be staying there, I won’t be coming home’,” he told Caters.
“Those were the last words she spoke to me and the last time I saw her alive.”
After the 123 days of treatment, hospital staff were emotional when the twins were successfully removed from Ms Padilha’s womb in February.
The premature twins were kept in incubators for three months, with daughter Ana Vitoria coming in at 1.4 kilograms, while her brother Asaph weighed 1.3 kilograms.
The twins are now being taken care of by Ms Padilha’s mother, Angela Silva, while their father works.
“I’m so proud of my daughter,” Ms Silva said.
“It’s been hard losing her but she was a warrior right until the end, protecting her beautiful children and giving them life until the day she finally died.”