Brain dead mother kept alive for 123 days until twins were born

In southern Brazil, a tragedy ensued, which resulted in a small miracle. The 21-year-old Frankielen da Silva Zampoli Padilha was nine weeks into her pregnancy with twins when one day she felt a sharp pain in her head. She then called her husband Muriel, who rushed home to be at her side.

"She said her head was killing her. I told her to take a tablet. But she said there was a sharp pain at the back of her neck and it was so strong she felt she was going to collapse," said Muriel.

When Muriel came home, he found his wife in a terrifying state; she was shaking, crying, dizzy and vomiting from the pain. "As I drove her to hospital, she said 'I want you to be prepared to accept this because I will be staying there, I won't be coming home,'" he continued.

The doctors diagnosed Frankielen with a cerebral haemorrhage. After three days of tests and scans, the horrifying news was communicated to her husband: Frankielen was declared brain dead and the doctors also warned Muriel that there was no hope for his unborn children either. The couple already had a two-year-old daughter, Isa Beatriz, so this news came as a grave shock to both father and child.

"They told me they would give the babies three more days of life because they had given my wife multiple CT scans, sedated her with powerful drugs and pumped her full of antibiotics and this meant everything had ended up in our babies," explained Muriel.

But the twins did not die and all of Frankielen's organs were still intact. The decision was then taken to keep Frankielen artificially alive until the children could be born. And indeed, for 123 days the babies continued to grow inside their dead mother's womb.

It was remarkable how the hospital staff pulled together to show the babies love, affection and encouragement. They had a routine of singing, talking and caressing Frankielen's pregnancy bump and even decorated the area around Frankielen's bed with photos of her. 

When the time came, two healthy premature babies were born — Ana Vitoria weighed 3.1 lbs while her brother Asaph came in at 2.9 lbs. The siblings remained in incubators for a further three months, and are now being looked after by Frankielen's mother, Angela Silva.

"I'm so proud of my daughter. It's been hard losing her but she was a warrior right until the end, protecting her beautiful children and giving them life until the day she finally died," Angela said.

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