May 16, 2007 — -- Stacy Rojas, a 34-year-old teacher at Molina High School in Dallas, was happily expecting her first child with her husband, Marcus.
Six months into her pregnancy, though, Stacy had a brain aneurysm and went into a coma.
Marcus and Stacy's doctors made a difficult decision: to keep her body alive to incubate the child she yearned for.
Friday, Stacy gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Zoe Sofia Rojas.
It was a remarkable event. There are only about a dozen known cases in the United States of a woman giving birth after being declared brain dead.
"It's the first time in my 25 years as a clinical ethics consultant that I have seen a case like this," said Dr. Robert Fine of Baylor Hospital, who treated Stacy.
For Stacy's husband and the community, it's a time of grief and a time of joy.
Stacy was a vital young woman and beloved chemistry teacher.
"Whenever I needed her she was there for me. She spoke for me. She was a great teacher," said her student Esmerelda Mejia.
There was nothing that could have foretold her aneurysm, said Marcus, a 50-year-old psychologist and college professor.
"One morning she's feeling ill, and then all of a sudden we're in the hospital after she's started having seizures," Marcus said.
She was pronounced brain dead the next day.
For doctors, keeping Stacy and her unborn baby alive was a medical high-wire act of balancing drugs, therapies and nutrition.
"The longer they can maintain this pregnancy, the better the outcome for the baby," Fine said.
Every day at Stacy's hospital bed, Marcus told stories to the baby.
"I talked to her, read to the baby. Read Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Poo stories and Pablo Neruda poetry. I'm trying to speak Spanish. I speak Spanish as well to the baby," he said.
Three days ago, doctors delivered baby Zoe by Caesarean section. She weighed just 3 pounds, 3 ounces, but there is every indication she will be healthy.
"This child is us, it's our love and I, at this point, I'll be a lion to protect that and to have that child be healthy and have a healthy father," Marcus said.
"The child will have had enough loss, and so I'm doing everything I can to try to make this grief transcendent instead of something that will destroy me. Although I feel like I'm destroyed about half the time."
Forty-eight hours later, Stacy was removed from life support and her organs were donated.
Marcus said that he would ensure Zoe knew her mother.
"I'm trying to be thoughtful of what she would have wanted," he said. "I've been planning a nursery and a funeral at the same time. She had picked out all the furnishings and all that stuff that she wanted. I'll have pictures of us all over the place."
Find out more about this story at www.stacyfosterrojas.com.