Life support to give another life

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 10, 2004
2,703
2
Another kind of twist to the life support discussion.
Link

Susan Torres is in a race to the death -- a race that will decide whether cancer claims her life before she gives birth.

But Ms. Torres will never know how the race ends.

On May 7, the 26-year-old vaccine researcher from Arlington, Virginia, 15 weeks pregnant with her second child, collapsed from a stroke brought on by undiagnosed melanoma.

She suffered serious brain damage and will never regain consciousness, but the cancer is spreading quickly.

Now Ms. Torres' family is hoping she will live long enough on life support to deliver the baby -- her last act of love, says her husband, Jason Torres.

Ms. Torres is now almost 20 weeks pregnant. Her husband hopes she and the baby can hold on to at least 25 weeks, or even 27 weeks, which would give the baby a better chance for survival and good health.

The case is an unusual one, but it didn't attract any attention until two weeks ago, when Mr. Torres' brother, Justin, wrote an opinion piece about the politics of abortion for the Dallas Morning News.

In it, he outlined the story of his sister-in-law's collapse, and noted how the doctors and the family wondered -- just for a moment -- if they were doing the right thing.

Only for a moment, Jason Torres reiterated last night.

"Of course there's another option. But we're not going to take it," he said. "You're not going to let your child go."
 

Applespider

macrumors G4
The human incubator... I'm actually OK with keeping someone alive in the short-term in order to save another life. In this instance, I'd question the viability of the child. Even if she makes it to 25 weeks, the baby is going to be incredibly premature and face more serious problems in life than not having a mother. But I can understand that in the face of losing a relation suddenly, you cling to any hope that part of them can survive.

The other scenario in which I'd say it was OK to keep someone alive is for organ donation until the transplant patient can be located and brought to the hospital. My next of kin are aware that should anything happen to me that causes brain death my organs are to be donated and I'm not to be kept alive by false means except to aid that.
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
2,284
0
Alta, Norway
Right.... I seriously have no idea how I feel about this. If it were only a few days or weeks, then I'd have no objections... but 25 weeks is a long time.

But 20 weeks (pregnancy) is also a long time...

I'd feel bad either way. So, actually I do know. But it's all just confusing.
 

Don't panic

macrumors 603
Jan 30, 2004
5,555
695
having a drink at Milliways
tough one.
complicated by the fact that melanoma is one of the few examples of cancer with documented fetal metastasis (the most common one, in fact, and it's untreatable).
if the cancer is metastatic and it has spread to the placenta, than they are insane (especially the doctors). the risk is just too high.
If the child were to develop melanoma... brrr. I wouldn't want to be in any of that family's shoes. there is nothing worse than your child having cancer, and the idea that you might be somehow responsible would be unbearable.
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
16,574
0
This has been done successfully before, that is keeping the mother on life support till the baby would be viable outside the womb. Like will be among the first for a woman with cancer. My prayers go out to the Torres family, may the pregnancy and birth be successful. Sounds as though the father will have a lot of family support. Hopefully the baby will be safe from the cancer. The hopeful part is that there isn't direct contact of the mother's and babies blood supply. Nature has set up a very protective system. Doctors will hold out as long as possible till doing a C-Section.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,194
6
Adelaide, Australia
I'm just glad it wasn't me who had to make the decision. I don't know enough about medicine yet (give me three more years) but I'm assuming the surgeons know what they're doing and they know there's only a small chance the baby will be damaged in any way in which case I don't really have a major problem with it.
 

Don't panic

macrumors 603
Jan 30, 2004
5,555
695
having a drink at Milliways
wdlove said:
This has been done successfully before, that is keeping the mother on life support till the baby would be viable outside the womb. Like will be among the first for a woman with cancer. My prayers go out to the Torres family, may the pregnancy and birth be successful. Sounds as though the father will have a lot of family support. Hopefully the baby will be safe from the cancer. The hopeful part is that there isn't direct contact of the mother's and babies blood supply. Nature has set up a very protective system. Doctors will hold out as long as possible till doing a C-Section.
if the tumor has metastasized to the placenta, the chances that the fetus will develop the (lethal) disease are high. If she doesn't have distant metastasis than the numbers would be good. One must assume the doctors there know what's best.