A former international athlete, brain dead since December, has given birth to a baby boy in Portugal.

Catarina Sequeira, 26, a canoeist, gave birth to a baby boy called Salvador before her death after being brain dead for 56 days at the Hospital of St. John of Porto.

It had been the doctors' aim that she would reach 32 weeks, which would have been on Friday, but her condition deteriorated and the Cesarean section was brought forward to Thursday.

Her funeral was to be held on Friday at 2.30pm.

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The former athlete was put into an induced coma after she suffered an acute asthma attack at her home and was declared brain dead on December 26.

She was 19 weeks pregnant when she went into the coma and for 56 days a ventilator kept her breathing so that Salvador could survive, the BBC reported.

It was Portugal's presumed consent laws which kept the baby alive, as well as the wishes of Miss Sequeira's family.

The hospital's ethics adviser, Felipe Almeida, told the Observador: 'Being a donor is not just about being in a position to donate a liver or heart or lung, but also being in a position to give yourself so a child can live.'

Miss Sequeira's mother, Fatima Branco, said: "I have a bitter joy. I do not want to meet my grandson with this bitterness."

She described how she could not fill the void of her daughter's loss with her grandson, but would have to grieve and 'close the chapter' of her daughter's life first.

The infant was born weighing just 3.75lbs and will remain in the hospital for at least three weeks.

This is the second time in recent years a child has been born to a brain dead woman in Portugal, in 2016 a child called Lourenco was born in Lisbon after surviving 15 weeks in his dead mother's womb.

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