SAN ANTONIO – Deciding whether to try to at least save the baby of a gravely wounded or injured pregnant woman is one of the most extremely difficult decisions that physicians face, according to Dr. Kayla Ireland, a maternal fetal specialist at UT Health San Antonio.
“The scenario is, thankfully, very rare,” Ireland said.
She said it could be a way to save the mother’s life by delivering the baby, but even if it’s not, it must be done within four minutes of the mother dying.
“We know any longer than that, the risk to the baby is very high as far as death or brain damage,” Ireland said.
She said the unborn baby relies on the mother’s blood flow through the uterus, so any disruption can be dangerous.
Malinda Quiroz, who would have been baby Tabitha Bernadett’s great-grandmother, said her 18-year-old granddaughter, Bernadett, was seven months pregnant when she was shot, along with her mother, Janette, who was killed last Tuesday in the parking lot of a South Side apartment complex.
Quiroz said Bernadett was brain dead when she arrived to the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
She said the physicians decided to deliver Bernadett’s baby by C-section, but “as soon as she was born and they removed her from her mom’s belly, she was brain dead. She didn’t have a heartbeat.”
Quiroz said doctors were able to restore a faint heartbeat, but Tabitha had to be placed on life support last Tuesday.
Last Friday, Quiroz finally decided to remove her great-granddaughter from the respirator.
“I got to meet her. I got to hold her. So now it’s time to turn her back to her home in heaven,” Quiroz said.