August 04, 2005 08:00 AM

A pregnant brain-dead woman who was kept alive for three months so she could have her child was removed from life support Wednesday and died, a day after giving birth to a baby daughter who now bears her name.

“This is obviously a bittersweet time for our family,” Justin Torres, the woman’s brother-in-law, said in a statement.

Susan Torres, a 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, suffered a stroke on May 7 after melanoma had spread to her brain. Her family kept her alive in order to give her fetus a chance, and Torres gave birth to a daughter by C-section on Tuesday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.

Doctors had said that Torres’s health was deteriorating and that the risk of harm to the fetus finally outweighed the benefits of extending the pregnancy.

The baby, about two months premature, weighed 1 lb., 13 oz. and was 13 1/2 inches long. There were no complications during delivery and the baby “is doing well,” Justin Torres told the Associated Press. The baby, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, was born at 8:18 a.m. Tuesday.

Early Wednesday, the elder Susan was removed from life support with the consent of her husband, Jason Torres, after she received the final sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church.

“We thank all of those who prayed and provided support for Susan, the baby and our family,” Jason Torres said in a statement. “We especially thank God for giving us little Susan. My wife’s courage will never be forgotten.”

The baby was described as “very vigorous” by Dr. Donna Tilden-Archer, the hospital’s director of neonatology. She said the child had responded when she received stimulation, indicating she was healthy.

A Web site – susanttorresfund.org – has been set up to help raise money for the family’s mounting medical bills (insurance will not cover all expenditures), and donations are said to be pouring in.

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