Robyn Benson, shown here in a wedding photo, was 32 years old and 22 weeks pregnant when she suffered a sudden hemorrhage that left her brain dead at the end of December. Staff at a Victoria, B.C., hospital are working to keep her body alive so that her unborn child has a better chance of surviving. Dylan Benson/YouCaring.com
A community is rallying to help a 32-year-old Victoria man facing an almost unimaginable set of circumstances as he awaits his first child's entry into the world.
High school sweethearts Robyn and Dylan Benson were married last July, after dating for sixteen years.
Hundreds of people have contributed to a fund in support of Dylan Benson, whose pregnant wife Robyn suffered a medical emergency after Christmas and was declared brain dead.
She remains in a B.C. hospital on life support until doctors feel the fetus is viable enough for them to perform a caesarean section.
Benson says his unborn son was just over five months along and growing normally when Robyn complained of a headache and collapsed on Dec. 28.
"She was non-responsive. I tried to call her name and stuff but nothing would happen," he said.
Rushed to hospital, staff determined that she had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and that damage was irreparable. She was declared brain dead the next day.
"I didn't understand because I just didn't think that was a possibility," he said.
In line with his wishes, hospital staff are now trying to keep her alive seven more weeks, until the fetus is 34 weeks old and has a better chance of survival outside the womb.
"I got to feel him kick for the first time the other day," said Benson.
However, the birth of a boy he intends to name Iver Cohen Benson will mean that his wife will be taken off life support. So far,Iver is healthy and continues to grow.
"Pretty much her body is doing everything but her brain isn't there anymore," said Benson. "She's doing an amazing job," he said.
"On one hand, I can’t wait to meet my son and try, and give him the best life possible and try my hardest to be a great dad for him. On the other hand, I know that the day or the day after he is born will be the day that I have to say goodbye to Robyn."
Baby Iver Fund sets $36K goal
Benson, who works for an IT company, is well known in the Victoria community and many who know him are trying to help any way they can.
Bryan Capistrano, DJ and music director at The Zone radio in Victoria, said his friend is facing a heartwrenching time.
"It's a weird situation because, on the one hand, you're welcoming a new child into the world and then as soon as that happens you're saying goodbye to the love of your life," Capistrano said.
Due to the stress and time demands of planning for parenthood and planning a funeral, in addition to facing the uncertainty over not knowing how long his wife will remain stable, Benson says he has had to take leave from work.
Rod Phillips, director of marketing and buying at Vancouver Island's Liquor Plus stores, is a personal friend of the Bensons and began an in-store fundraiser to support them.
"It's one of the toughest things I can imagine ever having to go through," Phillips said.
"I just can't imagine that. So any help that we can provide as Liquor Plus or as a community is money well spent."
Benson also started an online fundraiser, hosted on YouCaring.com, which he says will help cover some of the costs that mount up with the new baby and as a result of missing work.
As of Monday morning, the Baby Iver Fund has raised $26,757 out of a $36,000 goal.
"I wish Robyn could see it. It's tough for all of us but I'm just so thankful every little bit goes to help me and Iver," he said.
"I'm positively overwhelmed."