By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
DEBRECEN/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– A Hungarian university hospital says a premature but healthy baby was delivered after doctors kept the child’s brain-dead mother on life support for three months, a move, it claims, will shake the foundations of human medicine.
After a 31-year-old mother suffered a stroke when she was just 15 weeks pregnant, the hospital of the University of Debrecen in eastern Hungary sprang into action.
In a statement to BosNewsLife, the university said its Medical and Health Science Center managed to save her foetus.
The baby was delivered via cesarean section this summer at 27 weeks, weighing 1.4 kilograms, about three pounds or 1.8 ounces.
It happened after the child’s brain-dead mother was put on life support, following requests of a “grieving family”, doctors said.
The mother’s organs — her heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas — were donated to four patients awaiting a life-saving transplant, two days after the delivery.
The Reformed Church backed university, the oldest in Hungary, said the “ground-breaking results in the fields of donor care and obstetrics” meant in its words “a scientific breakthrough that could potentially shake the foundations of human medicine.”
The medical center’s director, Béla Fülesdi, told reporters that this “was the first time” the university carried out the procedures. “This would not have been possible without the support of the family and doctors working here,” he said.
Officials did not name the baby’s relatives as they declined to go public. Hungarian privacy legislation protects the identity of organ donors and recipients.
It is part of the center right-government’s pro-life policies in this heavily Catholic nation, with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs even busing reporters to the facility, 190 kilometers (118 miles) outside Budapest.
Hungary’s State Secretary for Health Miklós Szócska said he was pleased that “despite the economic difficulties in health care” the university was able to help deliver a healthy baby and donate the mother’s organs to those in need.
“One life has helped save five” he said. “I am thanking both doctors and nurses of the hospital, and the deceased woman’s family for choosing life through their consent to the operations.”
In Hungary’s recently adopted new constitution, life is protected “from conception” and marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman.
Faced with a declining population, the government has in the past used European Union money to campaign against abortions. Two years ago, posters were plastered all over Budapest with the picture of a foetus begging to be allowed to live.
“I might understand that you’re not ready for me yet. But think twice, and put me up for adoption. Let me live!” ran the emotional wording of the posters.