Brain-dead Canadian woman kept alive to save her baby

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 2/04/14, 03:40 pm

Just a week after a Texas man won his fight to have his pregnant wife removed from life support, a Canadian man is hoping doctors can keep his wife alive long enough to give birth to their son.

Friends and family are rallying around Dylan Benson of Victoria, B.C. as he anticipates his baby’s birth and mourns his high school sweetheart’s death. 

Dylan and Robyn Benson married in July after dating for 16 years. On Dec. 28, Robyn collapsed after complaining of a headache. After she was rushed to a local hospital, doctors diagnosed her with a cerebral hemorrhage and declared her brain-dead the next day. Robyn was 22 weeks pregnant at the time and since then has remained on life support while the baby continues to grow. The child is currently at 27 weeks of development, and doctors are trying to keep Robyn alive seven more weeks, when the then 34-week-old baby will have a better chance of surviving outside the womb. 

The child, named Iver Cohen Benson, is growing and healthy so far, and his odds of survival increase with each day. When he is born by caesarian section, Robyn will be taken off life support. 

“On one hand, I can’t wait to meet my son … and give him the best life possible and try my hardest to be a great dad for him,” Dylan Benson told CBC. “On the other hand, I know that the day or the day after he is born will be the day that I have to say goodbye to Robyn.”

Benson started an online fund to help cover the costs that come with the birth of his son and the time he has taken off work. The original goal was $36,000. According to a report by The Vancouver Sun, by Monday morning, the site had already raised $50,000. 

“I wish Robyn could see it,” Benson told CBC. “It’s tough for all of us but I’m just so thankful every little bit goes to help me and Iver. I’m positively overwhelmed.” 

The Benson’s situation is similar to a recent case in Texas, where a judge ruled that a hospital could not keep a brain-dead, pregnant woman on life support against her husband’s wishes. Hospital officials complied with the judge’s order, removing Marlise Munoz from life support last weekend and killing her 23-week-old child. 

Erick Munoz’s attorneys claimed medical records suggested the child had “abnormalities,” although the hospital never confirmed that. After doctors removed his wife from the machines keeping their baby alive, Munoz said doctors at Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital told him the child was a girl. Although he didn’t want her born alive, Munoz named his daughter Nicole, his late wife’s middle name.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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