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Hospitals won't deliver baby of ALS patient


10:02, January 22, 2013

BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- A woman with Lou Gehrig's disease is due to give birth soon, but she is still not sure whether any hospital in Beijing will take the risk of performing a Cesarean section on her.

As a teenager, Lyu Yuanfang, 31, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a fatal, incurable neuromuscular disease that progresses rapidly.

A native of northwest China's Gansu Province, she arrived in Beijing with her husband Luo Zhongmu last month and rented a home in the city's northeast Chaoyang District. Since then, she has been searching for medical facilities willing to assist her delivery.

"We don't know anyone here in Beijing, and all the hospitals we visited said they were unable to operate on an ALS patient," Luo told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

Lyu is now 34 weeks pregnant and test results show that the fetus is healthy. Doctors have urged her to have a C-section before the fetus reaches 36 weeks, in case her own health deteriorates and threatens both herself and the baby.

Before they arrived in Beijing, a Sino-Canadian joint-venture hospital for women and infants offered Lyu free prenatal tests and delivery services.

But after a series of tests, the hospital's management decided Lyu's case was too risky, as the hospital has neither the proper equipment nor respiratory and neurological disease specialists.

"We readily agreed to help and exempt her from all medical charges, because we did not know her case was so serious," a senior manager of the hospital said on condition of anonymity. "We are apparently not qualified to perform China's first Cesarean section on an ALS patient."

Wu Shiwen, a neurologist with the General Hospital of Armed Police Forces, said Lyu's disease may cause respiratory system failures during delivery.

"The risk is high -- actually it's too risky for an ALS patient to be pregnant at all," said Wu.

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