NEPTUNE, N.J. (AP) - Doctors ended the five-month pregnancy of a woman
carrying septuplets, saying they needed to abort the fetuses to save the
31-year-old mother's life.
The seven fetuses were aborted Monday after it became clear a bacterial
infection was endangering the life of Ivette Zapata-Smalls, her physician, Dr.
Charles Hux, said Tuesday. Doctors had planned to deliver the fetuses in late March, when they would have been 28 or 29 weeks old.
Zapata-Smalls is expected to make a full recovery and will likely be released from a hospital later this week, Hux said.
The abortion was initially reported by the Asbury Park Press.
Zapata-Smalls and her husband, Fred Smalls, 37, of Lakewood, announced the
pregnancy last week. She had become pregnant after taking the fertility drug Pergonal. Such drugs frequently are associated with multiple pregnancies.
Zapata-Smalls was carrying three girls and two boys, doctors said. The sex of
the remaining two fetuses had not been determined.
Hux told the newspaper a bacteria from the mother's bloodstream had invaded
her womb and the fetuses also had been infected. Fetuses in the womb do not
respond to antibiotics, he said. And by Monday it had become clear that the
infected fetuses were endangering Zapata-Smalls' life, Hux said.
Hux said last week that he had recommended that Zapata-Smalls abort four or five of the fetuses to enhance her chances of carrying the remaining ones to full term. The couple refused, citing their religious beliefs.
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