NRL News

Baby Faith is born almost six months after mother declared brain-dead

by | Jul 14, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Baby Faith

Baby Faith

Imagine, as if anyone could, the range of emotions that the family of Jessie Ayagalria experienced, first in the blink of an eye, then over a period of six months.

Last January, she is laughing with her uncle and her sister.

“Next thing I know they were hollering for me and I told them to call 911,” her mother Shirley Jerry told Alaskan television station KTUU. “It happened just that fast.”

Jessie Ayagalria had suffered a seizure and cardiac arrest. Catherine Greydanus, Ayagalria’s cousin, told Kate McPherson and Hope Miller of KVTA that Ayagalria was then hospitalized in Bethel and eventually transferred to Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage.

“While at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, it was discovered that Ayagalria was 12 weeks pregnant,” according to McPherson and Miller.

But the rollercoaster had just begun. Testing at ANMC showed Ayagalria had no brainwave activity. At that point, just about when the family had decided to take Ayagalria off of life support, “not all hope was lost,” McPherson and Miller reported.

“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 asked for a do not resuscitate order. 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.’”

Amazingly, last Tuesday, little faith was successfully delivered by C-Section at 35 weeks.

“I was brought in after [Faith] was delivered and it was an amazing feeling to hold her,” Jerry told reporters. She counted her granddaughter’s fingers and toes. “It was a miracle,” Jerry said. Ayagalria has since been taken off life support.

Of course the family is experiencing decidedly mixed feelings. “Losing Ayagalria is devastating, but Faith’s birth was a blessing,” McPherson and Miller wrote.

“It’s like going through a roller coaster,” Greydanus said. “You have to deal what’s going on with Jessie, but then you see Faith and can’t help but smile that something positive has come about this.”

The Daily Mail reported today that once Faith is cleared to leave the hospital, Jessie’s sister plans on adopting her.