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Induced labor enables dying man to see newborn daughter

Courtesy Diane Aulger via AP

Mark Aulger held his day-old daughter, Savannah, on Jan. 19. He died Jan. 23.

DALLAS - Diane Aulger was about two weeks from her delivery date when she and her husband decided there was no time to wait: Mark Aulger had only days to live, and he wanted to see his child.

Diane Aulger had her labor induced and gave birth to their daughter on Jan. 18. When tiny Savannah was placed in his arms, Mark Aulger “cried, and he just looked very sad,’’ his wife said. He died five days later from complications related to his cancer treatment.

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The 52-year-old Texas man was diagnosed with colon cancer in April. He had surgery and, as a precaution, six months of chemotherapy, Diane Aulger said. With no signs of cancer showing up in follow up tests, the treatment seemed successful.

Then in November, Mark Aulger began having trouble breathing. By Jan. 3, he was sick enough to go to the emergency room. His wife said he was told the chemotherapy had caused him to develop pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring and thickening in the lungs.

Initially, the Aulgers were hopeful. But on Jan. 16, the doctor delivered more bad news: Mark Aulger’s condition was fatal. When Diane Aulger asked how long her husband had, the response was five or six days.

“Mark said, ‘I’d like to see the baby,’ ’’ the 31-year-old mother said yesterday.

Their baby was due Jan. 29, and Diane Aulger had planned a natural childbirth, but when the doctor suggested an induced labor, she immediately agreed. She was already experiencing prelabor symptoms, and they scheduled the birth for Jan. 18.

Hospital staff arranged for the Aulgers to share a large labor and delivery room. Mark Aulger held his daughter for about 45 minutes after she was born. For the next couple of days, though, he was so tired he was only able to hold her a couple of times for a minute or so. She said he slipped into a coma on Jan. 21 and died two days later.

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