Doctors in Germany successfully delivered the baby of a medically “dead” mother 48 hours before her life-support machine was switched off.
Widower Dominik Lemke, 29, is now left to bring up newborn daughter Leonie-Franziska with his other children Elias, three, and Louis, two.
His pregnant partner Franziska Lemke, 25, complained of head and neck pain shortly after arriving at hospital to give birth last week.
She was diagnosed with a meningitis inflammation of the brain – a very rare complication which antibiotics failed to treat.
“Franziska had a rapid deterioration, and after a quarter of an hour in the hospital she did not recognise me,” said Mr Lemke.
Doctors confirmed they could not save her and she was pronounced brain dead a few hours later. She was kept alive by machine until the baby was by caesarean section on Friday.
Mr Lemke said: “The little girl is healthy. I kept her happy in my arms, but at the same time I cried for my wife, who could not share this moment with me.”
Forty eight hours after she was born, he gave doctors permission to switch off the machines keeping his wife alive.
He told Germany’s Bild newspaper: “I caressed her and told her I would always be there for the children, but I had to let her go.
“I explained to my children that ‘Mama is now an angel.’”
He has given up training to become a train driver “as I have to be both mother and father now.” A fundraising campaign has been started to help support the family.