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Mother Found At Last Minute Identifies Son, Asks Life Support Be Removed

June 23, 1985

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The mother of a brain-dead accident victim was located three hours after his organs were to have been removed for transplants, identified her son and had his life support systems removed, a doctor said Sunday.

Doctors had obtained a court order permitting the removal of organs from Michael Soto, 23, after they were unable to find any living relatives. As they began the procedure late Friday, they got word the youth might have relatives, and stopped work.

Blanche Singh arrived in Nashville on Saturday and her son’s life support equipment was removed shortly before midnight, said Dr. Joseph Ross, vice chancellor for health affairs at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

″We spent some time going over the events that happened and allowed her to have some emotion about it. In the end, she understood,″ Ross said. ″We wanted her to have a chance to be a participant in this decision, which was an inevitable decision.″

Doctors did not ask Ms. Singh for permission to remove organs from her son because they felt the organs were unusable due to the length of time since he became brain-dead, Ross said. Soto, who had suffered head and internal injuries in a motorcycle accident Tuesday, was declared brain-dead Thursday, which under state law means he was legally dead.

Vanderbilt searched for Soto’s next of kin in nearby Clarksville, where he lived. On Friday, a judge gave doctors permission to remove Soto’s kidneys, bone marrow, corneas, pancreas, liver and heart.

″We had already taken him to an operating room (about midnight Friday) and were starting the procedure when these people (from Clarksville) came and said they thought he may have some living relatives,″ Ross said.

Soto, who recently was discharged from the Army at Fort Campbell, Ky., had told friends he had no relatives, and a search by the hospital turned up no one, Ross said.

But the ″friends″ from Clarksville, whom hospital officials did not identify, told of a young woman friend in New York City, Ross said. The 18- year-old woman, who was also not identified, located Soto’s mother, and she telephoned officials early Saturday, he said.

″We just accidently found her. In fact, the story that her son seemed to have given most of his friends, even the ones who came at the last minute, was that his parents were killed and he was adopted,″ Ross said.

Ms. Singh said she had not seen Soto in several years and last talked to him about six months ago, Ross said.

Ross said the mother planned to return to New York with her son’s remains.

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