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Cuban Refugee Disconnected From Life-Support, Dies

January 10, 1987

MIAMI (AP) _ A young Cuban refugee who was plucked off an overturned inner-tube raft along with his two brothers Christmas Day died after relatives approved the removal of life-support systems, a doctor said Friday.

Obed Cardin Lopez, 19, who was in shock, was dehydrated and was delirious when found, died Thursday evening at Westchester General Hospital, said Dr. Manuel Perez-Espinosa.

Cardin and his brothers, all Jehovah’s Witnesses, left Cuba Dec. 23 with a friend, but their raft overturned almost immediately in high seas, leaving them without food, clothing and water, they said. The friend drowned.

After their rescue by a Dominican freighter, the dehydrated, sun-blistered, brothers were turned over to U.S. immigration officials. Cardin was held for one day, then was rushed to a hospital when he complained of pain.

Cardin likely ingested salt water, which caused kidney damage leading to fatal infection, said Perry Rivkind, district director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Cardin’s relatives apparently had grown discouraged over chances that the Cuban government would allow the youth’s parents to visit their son, said Perez-Espinosa.

″The young man had been brain-dead since (last) Friday and the family knew Cuba had not given the parents visas yet,″ he said. ″On my suggestion, the family decided (Thursday) night to remove him from the life support system.″

Rivkind asked the U.S. State Department earlier this week to allow Osvaldo and Maria Cardin to visit their son.

On Wednesday the U.S. officials issued tourist visas for the Cardins, but the Cuban government had not replied to the State Department request.

The oldest brother, Osvaldo Cardin Lopez, 22, was released after a short hospital stay. The middle brother, Omas Cardin Lopez, 21, did not require hospitalization.

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