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Brain-dead mum set to be buried today

the heartbroken family of a brain-dead pregnant woman is preparing to bury her today.

The funeral marks the end of a four-week ordeal that began when the mother-of-two was pronounced dead following catastrophic internal injuries suffered as a result of a blood clot.

The death of the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, occurred days after she was admitted to hospital after complaining of severe headaches.

Last Friday, the High Court ruled that doctors could switch off life support to the mum, who was 18 weeks pregnant.

The woman, aged in her 20s and described as being "in the prime of her life" when she suffered the major brain trauma, was declared dead on December 3.

She was on life support against her family's wishes for more than three weeks because of legal uncertainty about the status of her unborn.

The High Court ruled that there was no prospect of survival for the unborn child and said life-support was being maintained at a hugely destructive cost to the woman's remains and loved ones.

hugging

The woman's father shed tears as Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns stated that her life-support could be withdrawn.

Afterwards, the woman's father was seen hugging her fiance.

Speaking on behalf of a three-judge Divisional Court, Judge Kearns noted the pair's "immense courage and fortitude" in dealing with the situation.

The woman's life-support equipment was finally turned off on Saturday afternoon.

Today's funeral mass and burial takes place amid fresh debate over the appropriateness of abortion legislation, which the case, while not directly concerning the issue of abortion, fell under.

Doctors were unwilling to remove the woman from life-support due to the eighth constitutional amendment, which gives the rights of mothers and the unborn an equal status.

Tanaiste Joan Burton said yesterday that the decision to turn off life support should be made by doctors and not lawyers, and said the relevant legislation amounts to an "obstacle" in that regard.

fdillon@herald.ie


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