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Judge Rules Brain-Dead Girl May Be Kept Alive

September 21, 1985

MIAMI (AP) _ A judge gave the parents of a brain-dead girl one week to find a hospital to provide her with life support systems after officials at the one where she is confined said she should be allowed to die.

Dade County Circuit Judge Mario Goderich made his ruling Friday after an attorney, a neurosurgeon and a Catholic philosopher argued that the victim, 17-year-old Katherine Noriega, should be removed from life support gear at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

″The parents are asking the staff of Mount Sinai to care for a corpse. This is wrong,″ said hospital attorney John Kelner. ″There is no hope in this case.″

Ms. Noriega has been unconscious since Aug. 25, when her car crashed head- on into a pickup truck.

″Our request is to give Katherine the utmost time possible for anything to occur, medically or by the Almighty,″ testified the girl’s father, Joseph Noriega.

Dr. Mario Nanes, a neurosurgeon at Mout Sinia in charge of Ms. Noriega’s case, told the judge the girl has irreversible brain damage.

Father James McCartney, director of the bio-ethics institute at St. Francis Hospital and a professor of philosophy at a Catholic seminary in Boynton Beach, testified that for the Church, ″Katherine Noriega is dead.″

But Goderich ruled that Mount Sinai has not shown that shutting off the life support equipment keeping the girl’s body alive is an emergency.

In making his ruling, Goderich said he had no problem with the family’s request to wait before shutting off the life-giving machines.

″If there is a mistake in this case, it will be on the side of waiting, because of the finality of a decision,″ Goderich said.

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