BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A woman with Lou Gehrig's disease gave birth to a baby boy Wednesday morning at a hospital in Beijing.
The baby, born at 35 weeks, is in intensive care at the Aviation General Hospital in northern Beijing.
Although about two weeks premature, the baby's weight was normal at 2.85 kg, said hospital president Gao Guolan, who performed a Cesarean section for the new mother, Lyu Yuanfang.
Lyu, 31, has Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal, incurable neuromuscular disease that progresses rapidly.
She had to give birth via Cesarean section before 36 weeks of pregnancy in case her own health problems put the fetus at risk.
"The baby's birth marks a big success in our clinical research," said Gao.
Lyu is believed to be the first ALS sufferer to give birth in China.
She was sent to the delivery room at 8:30 a.m. and the baby was born about an hour later. "Lyu has woken up from the general anesthesia. Her condition is normal, but she is under observation,"
The couple named the baby Luo Guilong, said Lyu's husband Luo Zhongmu.
"'Gui' is another name for my hometown in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and 'long' represents my wife's home province of Gansu," Luo said.
Luo and Lyu met in an online chat room in 2009. He was working at a chemical plant in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, while Lyu was bedridden in her parents' apartment in northwest China's province of Gansu.
They married in 2011 despite objections from Lyu's parents.
Most health specialists believe it is too risky for ALS patients to become pregnant. But Lyu, knowing her disease was fatal, said she felt it was important to have a child to keep her husband company after she dies.
"The child will make our family complete like all other families. That is the happiest thing I can think of," she said in an interview she gave before giving birth.
The couple arrived in Beijing in late December but were turned away by several hospitals, as doctors feared her disease could cause respiratory failure during the Cesarean section and prove fatal for both mother and child.
After their story was covered by local media, the Aviation General Hospital offered to perform a Cesarean section for Lyu, as well as shoulder all of her medical costs.
Lyu was hospitalized on Jan. 22 and underwent a wide range of checkups to prepare for her surgery.
Her operation date was fixed for Tuesday, the same day she began to have breathing difficulties.
She told doctors that in case she died during childbirth, she and her family were ready to donate her corneas to help visually-impaired people regain their sight.
Her story has received wide media coverage and moved thousands of people online. Many people have donated cash, baby clothes and other supplies for the mother and child.
"We have raised more than 10,000 yuan for Lyu and her baby and will visit them at the hospital after she recovers from the operation," said Ma Bin, administrator of an online group for ALS patients.
There are currently about 200,000 ALS patients in China. Since treatment is expensive and not covered by most social welfare programs, many are forced to forego care.
ALS strikes one to three people in every 100,000. Patients progressively lose muscle strength, eventually becoming paralyzed and unable to speak, move, swallow or breathe. British scientist Stephen Hawking is one of the most well-known ALS patients.