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A Canadian father and husband is experiencing an impossible mix of emotions at the birth of his first child followed by the passing of his wife, who was declared ‘brain dead’ by doctors in December.

Baby Iver Cohen Benson, who shot to international fame after his father Dylan requested that doctors keep his wife Robyn on life support to give his unborn son what he called a “chance of survival,” was born Saturday at a Victoria hospital.

“On Saturday evening, my beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met,” Benson wrote on his blog.

Doctors had declared Robyn Benson, 32, “brain dead” at the end of December, one day after suddenly suffering a massive blood leak to her brain. She was 22 weeks pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Husband Dylan told doctors to keep his wife on life support to allow the child to develop until he could survive outside the womb, about 26-28 weeks. Iver was born at about 28 weeks gestation.

Born about 12 weeks premature, baby Iver requires round-the-clock medical support to keep him alive.

“As to be expected, it will still be a bumpy ride … as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital,” Benson said.

Doctors told Benson that Iver’s birth would be followed by his wife’s death, since they would disconnect her from life-support. It is not known at this time if Robyn died as a result of the birth, or if her death was hastened by the removal of life support.

Critics of the “brain dead” criteria for establishing death say the fact that a pregnant woman can continue nourishing a child in her womb explodes the whole theory.

Benson himself found it hard to believe that his wife was actually dead while his child continued to thrive inside her: “She still looks so beautiful, and for the most part she looks like she’s sleeping. I miss her so much. I’m so proud of her for how strong she is holding up for Iver,” he wrote a few weeks ago on his blog.

Doctors had Benson say goodbye to his wife Sunday, one day after Iver’s birth.

“On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met. I miss Robyn more than words can explain. I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her.”

“She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart,” he said.

Support for Benson’s choice to keep his wife on life support for the sake of his son has come from around the globe.

Advocates for the right-to-life of the unborn immediately noticed a parallel between the circumstances faced by Benson and a Texas father who obtained a judge’s order that forced hospital staff to remove life support from his 33-year-old wife who had been pronounced “brain dead.” When her life support was removed she was carrying their 22-week-old baby.

In the Canadian case, the father did everything in his power to protect the life of his child, even quitting his job. In the U.S. case, the father instead fought for a court ruling that directly resulted in the child’s death.

Benson’s fundraising campaign to cover expenses during his absence from work has now reached $154,000, vastly surpassing his goal of $36,000. Some of the funds will go towards Iver’s future education.

Benson said he is “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support he and his son have received.

“Thank you to each and every one of you for your love, your kind words, and your support during this incredibly difficult time. The shares of this page and the thousands of comments that I have received, both here and on the YouCaring donation page, have helped so much with getting through these past days and weeks.”

“I truly appreciate the love and support from all over the world,” he said.
[11 Feb 2014,, Peter Baklinski, VICTORIA, British Columbia ]