Only a few weeks ago, a Texas husband successfully sued a hospital to remove his brain dead wife, Marlise Munoz, from “life support,” something they had refused to do because she was pregnant. The Fort Worth hospital believed they were following a state law which instructed them not to stop “life-sustaining treatment” for a patient who is pregnant, despite the woman’s own wishes. A judge eventually concluded that a dead person is not a patient.
A few thousand miles to the north, another family is in the exact same situation. But Dylan Benson, 32, of British Columbia is choosing to keep his brain dead pregnant wife Robyn Benson hooked up to life support until the fetus can be delivered via C-section.
Dylan and Robyn were high school sweethearts who married in July after 16 years together. On December 28th, Robyn Benson suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage. “She was complaining of a headache and asked me to go to the store to get some Tylenol for her,” he wrote, “and when I came back she was unconscious on the bathroom floor.” At the time of her death, she was 22 weeks pregnant. He plans to keep his wife on life support until she reaches 34 weeks (which will be three full months of being brain dead). Then their baby will be delivered by C-section and Robyn will be removed from life support. In a blog post on YouCaring.com, Dylan explains that doctors told him the fetus currently has an 80 percent chance of survival, which increases every day.
In his post, Dylan Benson explained that loved ones support him keeping Robyn’s body hooked up to life support. “Her family and my friends are all very supportive and all think that my wife would want me to try,” he wrote. He has named his fetus Iver and lists “Dylan and Iver Benson” as the beneficiaries of fundraising.
Anyone can understand an expectant father’s desire not to lose both a wife and a child. But when it comes to last wishes, there’s thinking and then there’s knowing. What’s really important here is: what were Robyn’s wishes? What beliefs did Robyn have about her end-of-life care? What beliefs did Robyn have about bringing a child into the world who will be without a mom from birth? Just as with the case of Marlise Munoz in Texas, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else’s beliefs or feelings are. It matters what the woman herself, who is carrying the fetus, wanted.
Dylan Benson is currently fundraising money for his family; as of yesterday, The New York Times reported, he had nearly $140,000. I’m touched by people’s generosity and by Dylan Benson’s decision to take on single parenthood. The interview with Dylan Benson at the CBC link is absolutely fucking heartbreaking.
I just wish it was known what Robyn Benson herself would have wanted.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.
[Image via CBC.ca]