Brain-dead Canadian woman dies after baby boy born

VANCOUVER (REUTERS) - A 32-year-old Canadian woman who had been declared brain dead in December and kept on life support for six weeks died on Sunday soon after giving birth to a baby boy.

Robyn Benson was just 22 weeks pregnant when she collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage and was declared brain dead. Doctors in Victoria, British Columbia, kept her alive at her husband's request so that their unborn baby would have a better chance of survival.

"It is with a heavy heart but also with extreme proudness that I am posting this update," Mr Dylan Benson wrote on his personal blog on Monday. "On Saturday evening, my beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met." But with the birth of baby Iver, Benson had to say goodbye to his wife of just seven months, who died on Sunday after being taken off life support.

"I miss Robyn more than words can explain. I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her," he wrote. "She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart."

Iver, born after just 28 weeks in the womb, weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces, the Vancouver Sun reported. A full-term pregnancy is 39 or 40 weeks, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"I don't think I have the right words to describe it," Mr Benson told the newspaper in an interview late on Monday. "It's the best and definitely the worst thing to ever happen to me in my life at the same time."

Mr Benson described his son as healthy, though noted the baby faces a "bumpy ride" as he continues to develop in a Victoria hospital. A photograph posted on Mr Benson's blog shows the 32-year-old information technology worker in the hospital cuddling his tiny son, who is attached to wires and tubes.

The story follows a controversial case in Texas, where Marlise Munoz, a pregnant brain-dead woman, was removed from life support at her husband's request last month after a lengthy court battle. Her husband said Munoz had told him she did not want to be kept on life support.

The Texas hospital had fought to keep Munoz on life support in a case that sparked fierce debate over the rights of a foetus versus the right to die.

The story of Robyn Benson and her unborn son gripped people across Canada and around the world, with donations to a fundraising site set up for baby Iver raising more than C$150,000 (S$190,000) as of Tuesday morning.

The amount has far exceeded the C$36,000 goal set by Mr Benson, who had hoped to raise funds for bills, baby supplies and to allow him to spend more time at home with his new son after the birth.

"Thank you to each and every one of you for your love, your kind words, and your support during this incredibly difficult time," Mr Benson wrote on his blog and fundraising site.

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