Young Mother Sacrifices Life for Child

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Friends and family are grieving the loss of a twenty-five year old recent college graduate with a serious heart condition who died two weeks after giving birth to the baby she refused to abort.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) is reporting that Benny Abreu, a young woman from the Dominican Republic who graduated from Florida Central University last month, chose to continue with her pregnancy even though she had a serious heart condition that doctors feared would cause complications.

Her sorority sisters at Lambda Theta Alpha say Benny was diagnosed last year with a condition that caused her heart to stop beating from time to time.

“Benny got pregnant at the end of 2009,” the sorority reports on its website. “It was a true blessing and something she hadn’t expected since she was told from a young age that she wasn’t able to have children.”

Even though the pregnancy was a strain on her heart, Benny was determined to have the child.

“The doctor told her she had to abort if she wanted to survive, but she told him no, that she could not kill her baby and that she was going to continue with her pregnancy,” said Martha Motley, the baby’s grandmother, to Florida’s LaPrensa newspaper.

Doctors fully expected her to deliver prematurely, but Benny made it to 34 weeks. On May 17, she gave birth to a five pound baby boy who she named Jovan Rafael Toliver II.

After the birth, her condition steadily weakened. She was transferred to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, which specializes in cardiology, but it was too late. She died on May 30.

“I knew that she had a medical condition with her heart. I even took her to the doctor on several occasions, but it never entered my mind that she was going to die,” said Benny’s fiancé and the father of her child, Jovan Toliver. “They (the doctors) said the baby should be delivered early and that she might suffer a little, but I never expected this to happen.”

Toliver added, “I have lost a part of me, but the only thing that sustains me is knowing that she never would have wanted me to leave her baby alone and for this reason I have to be strong.”

“She was very courageous and never doubted having her baby, even though as a result she had to pay the highest price,” Motley, who is Toliver’s mother, told reporters. “I know that now she is in God’s hands and when she looks down she will see that the best part of her is with us and she’ll know that we will always take care of him.”

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