Brain-dead Canadian woman dies after son’s birth

Posted at 5:39 AM, Feb 12, 2014

Dylan & Iver BensonFrom Paula Newton

(CNN) — A ventilator kept Robyn Benson breathing for weeks so the baby growing inside her could survive.

Doctors delivered the brain-dead Canadian woman’s son on Saturday. She died the next day.

“On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met,” her husband, Dylan Benson, wrote on his website.

Their newborn son, Iver, is in a neonatal intensive care unit in Victoria, British Columbia, a hospital spokeswoman said. He could be hospitalized for eight more weeks, Dylan Benson told CNN on Tuesday.

“He’s doing well, still learning to breathe and all those things. … But he’s the cutest little man,” he said.

The Benson family’s ordeal began shortly after Christmas.

Robyn Benson complained of a “terrible, terrible headache” and sent her husband out to get some Tylenol. When he returned, she was unresponsive, but still breathing.

At the hospital, doctors discovered she suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was later declared brain-dead.

The situation left Dylan Benson in an unimaginable position, counting down the days until the birth of his son — and the death of his wife.

The case drew some comparisons to the case of Marlise Muñoz in Texas, another pregnant woman who was declared brain-dead and hooked up to machines that kept her heart and lungs working. But there were two key differences.

In Muñoz’s case, her husband wanted her taken off a ventilator, and the hospital acknowledged the fetus she carried was not viable. A court ultimately ordered the hospital to disconnect the ventilator.

In Benson’s situation, family members and doctors agreed to keep her on a ventilator until they could deliver the baby via a cesarean section. And the life inside her was growing normally.

On Tuesday, Dylan Benson told CNN he was grateful for the support he’d received as word spread about his family’s story.

“I feel very, very, incredibly thankful. The message of positivity has been incredible, and it’s made it easier to get through these past few weeks,” he said.

An online fund-raising campaign to support the Bensons began this month.

The Baby Iver Fund started with a goal of $36,000. By Tuesday afternoon, it had already raised more than $150,000.

The money is slated to be used to pay for bills, baby supplies, day care, housing, food, transportation and an education fund for Iver.

“I hope that it makes it so he can have the life he deserves,” Dylan Benson said. “I want to thank everyone around the world.”

If Robyn Benson were still alive, he said, there’s no doubt about what she’d think.

“She would be very proud of our son,” he said. “I think she would be happy that there were so many people all over the world that want to see him healthy and happy. ”

CNN’s Ed Payne, Stephanie Gallman and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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