Faith was born Tuesday at 35 weeks. Her mother, 29-year-old Jessie Ayagalria of Bethel, has been in a coma, listed as clinically brain dead, for most of the pregnancy.
“I was brought in after [Faith] was delivered and it was an amazing feeling to hold her,” said Shirley Jerry, Ayagalria’s mother. She counted her granddaughter’s fingers. She counted her toes.
“It was a miracle,” Jerry said.
A miracle with heartache. At the end of January, Ayagalria had a seizure and suffered cardiac arrest. She was hospitalized in Bethel and was eventually transferred to Alaska Native Medical Center, said Catherine Greydanus, Ayagalria’s cousin. While at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, it was discovered that Ayagalria was pregnant.
Meanwhile, keeping Ayagalria alive proved to be a struggle. Testing at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage revealed Ayagalria’s brain was swollen and had no brainwave activity. Upon receiving the dismal news, the family decided to take Ayagalria off life support, Greydanus said.
While Ayagalria was in hospice care, neurologist Dr. Brian Trimble said it was possible to carry the baby. Some doctors disagreed, but the family said they still wanted to try and requested she be put on a feeding tube, IV and oxygen. They wanted to try to save the baby, but didn’t want Ayagalria to suffer, so they had her listed as DNR. The hospital’s ethics committee approved the request.
“I thought I was losing a baby and a daughter till I found out that she was able to carry the baby,” said Jerry, holding Greydanus’ hand for support. “I wanted to try at least.”
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