Giving Birth in Spite of Terminal Illness

Against all odds, 25 year old Hagit Ludwig, terminally ill with ALS, gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy Israel's Rabin Medical Center's Women's Hospital.

Hagit was diagnosed with ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, 18 months ago when she was only 23 years old. ALS, a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. There is no cure. Patients diagnosed with ALS usually live only 5 to 7 years after being diagnosed.

After receiving this devastating news Hagit became understandably depressed, but with the help of her parents and her longtime boyfriend she gradually began to take hold of her life. She became pregnant and her dream was now to become a mother even though she knew she would not live to see her child grow up.

Her determination to carry this child to term brought her to Professor Moshe Hod, director of the Maternal Fetal Division at Rabin Medical Center's Women's Hospital and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine, who has had extensive experience with difficult pregnancies. Remarkably Hagit's pregnancy progressed without complications. Prof. Hod and an expert medical team were able to perform a cesarean section and Hagit gave birth to a healthy boy. No ordinary delivery, there was a feeling of triumph that all had gone well and Hagit is overwhelmingly grateful to Prof. Hod and all his staff for this amazing gift of life.

Hagit is only the second woman in Israel to give birth after being diagnosed with this type of terminal illness and the twelfth in the world. She now wants to live as normally as possible and despite the many limitations in walking, writing and even griping objects she plans to take full part in the baby's education. "I want people to know that even though I am living on borrowed time and I don't know what tomorrow will bring this child has a father and a family and will carry on my life forever. For now, I take it a day at a time. I know I am not going to die tomorrow or the next day and none of us knows what the future of medicine may discover."

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