Doctors at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Nebraska have had their work cut out for them the past three months. It took over 100 doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospital to keep Karla Perez, 22, alive for 54 days before delivering her baby via cesarean section. On April 4, doctors delivered Perez’s child at 30 weeks and three days, weighing 2 pounds and 12.6 ounces. His name — Baby Angel — could not be more appropriate.

"Our team took a giant leap of faith," Sue Korth, vice president and COO of Methodist Women's Hospital, said in a statement. "We were attempting something that not many before us have been able to do. Karla's loss of life was difficult, but the legacy she has left behind is remarkable."

Perez, who was already the mother of a young girl, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at a young age and was told that it would be better for her health if she never had children. That suggestion became more problematic as she got older and met the love of her life. Ignoring her doctor’s recommendations, Perez went off her medication and got pregnant… twice. While doctors found no complications in Perez’s first pregnancy, her growing family’s world was flipped upside down on Feb. 8.

After dealing with a severe headache most of her night, Perez collapsed at her home and was quickly transported to Methodist Women’s Hospital. Doctors discovered a potentially fatal intracranial hemorrhage (brain bleeding) and placed a tube to help decrease the pressure on her brain. When they discovered the absence of brain stem reflexes and brain death, the medical staff decided on round-the-clock care in hopes of keeping her alive for a 32-week delivery. They delivered Baby Angel less than two weeks prior to the 32-week delivery date.

“Angel’s condition remains very stable,” said Dr. Brady Kerr, neonatologist at Methodist Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “He has no severe complications. At this time he is still in an incubator and has a feeding tube — he is not yet feeding by mouth. It’s hard for us to know the long-term outcome due to the rarity of the situation, but we are cautiously optimistic.”

According to Methodist Women’s Hospital, Perez is the first person in the United States to be kept alive on life support and have her pregnancy maintained since 1999. Five days after the delivery on April 6, Perez continued her altruistic nature posthumously by having her liver, heart, and two kidneys donated to four people in need. The hospital explained: “Angel’s first cry was bittersweet — it meant he was alive but Karla was gone.”