Thursday, August 04, 2005

Life at what price?

Stuck in a traffic jam yesterday I was nearly brought to tears by the story of Susan Torres, the woman who was on life support for several months so her fetus could develop. How tragic. A 26-year-old mother, pregnant with her second child, suffers a stroke from metastatic melanoma. Her family decides to keep her alive so that her second child gets a shot at life.

Whenever I hear this kind of story I am so thankful for all that I have, and all that I have avoided in life.

I can't imagine the woman's husband, getting a daughter the same day he loses his wife. And what of the two-year-old whose mother has been brain dead for months. Did he go visit her? How will he understand the events of the past few months.

Reading about this story on-line today, however, made me also get a little angry. The woman's medical costs were tens of thousands of dollars a week. People around the world donated to help offset the family's expenses.

Nice sentiments, but if one really wants to help infant outcomes or mothers in a bad position, think of what $400,000 (the amount they received in donations) could do for basic prenatal care in, say, Guatemala. Or the Sudan.

And though the baby is doing well, prematurity bring with it considerable risks. There is also a minor chance that the baby will develop cancer from exposure to the mother. This is a baby born into grief and without a mother.

Obviously I am not in a position to answer. But there are many reasons to say that the fetus die along with her mother could have been as generous, and no less heroic, an action.


Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

I have had concerns over the potential challenges this baby has--and had not realized she was a second child.

Like you, I had wondered about the money; I guess I am a practical person. Dad had quit his job to be near the mother, but I wondered if that was practical, though definitely heartwarming.


11:51 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

If the article was correct, that is not only a premature baby but one with some growth issues. That's very tiny for seven months gestation.

I do respect the family's right to make this choice, but I also have reservations about the "life at all costs" mentality. I wonder, if the family had decided to let the baby die with her mother, if they would have been criticized for it? And if it would have been taken out of their hands?

12:47 PM  
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5:44 AM  

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