clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

FLORIDA BABY DIES BEFORE HIGH COURT CAN RULE IN CASE

A 9-day-old baby born without a full brain died before Florida's highest court could rule on her parents' request to remove her organs for transplant while she was still alive.

Theresa Ann Campo Pearson was pronounced dead Monday, a day after she was taken off life-support systems.The baby's father, Justin Pearson, 30, said he and the child's mother, Laura Campo, would keep working for changes in a 1988 state law that says a person cannot be declared dead until all brain activity ceases.

"We want them to know that life is worth fighting for - and that's all we felt like we did," he said.

The baby's parents had wanted Theresa declared brain-dead before her death, before her organs deteriorated, so that they could be transplanted into other youngsters. But a county judge ruled Thursday that state law forbade that.

As her parents requested, Theresa's eyes were removed by the University of Miami's Bascom-Palmer eye clinic. Mary Anne Taylor, the clinic's executive director, said the eyes were too tiny and undeveloped for use in cornea transplants, but will be used for research.

The case had stirred debate over the ethics of taking organs from the terminally ill to save others' lives.

Theresa was born March 21 with anencephaly, in which the brain fails to develop beyond the brain stem, the part of the body that controls reflexes such as breathing and heartbeat. The condition is fatal within hours or weeks.

The parents' legal battle was back at the Florida Supreme Court when she died.

Earlier Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, but a state appeals court ruled that the matter was of compelling public interest and, unaware that the baby had died, sent it back to the high court.

Doctors said the baby's organs had deteriorated before her death and probably weren't usable.

"I think she accomplished a lot," said Susan Clarke, the baby's maternal grandmother. "People are learning about this and talking about this."

Anencephaly is present in about one of every 5,000 or more live births.