Discussion 11What was Karen's condition at the time the court considered her father's position to become guardian and remove life support?Karen Quinlan was 21 years of age in 1975 when, at a party, she stopped breathing for two fifteen-minute intervals. She could not be roused with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and she was taken to the hospital where she was placed on a respirator with a tracheotomy being subsequently performed. After three days her physician determined that she had suffered anoxia and her cortex has been severely damaged. Her EEG was not flat, and, therefore she was not brain dead, but it was abnormal in a way which was consistent with the anoxic state of her cortex. She soon began to exhibit all the characteristicsof a chronic vegetative state including the sleep-wake cycles which are consistent with this state. Consulting neurologists confirmed her condition as being that of a chronic and persistent vegetative state. Attempts to wean her from the respirator were unsuccessful. She was considered to be totally respirator dependent and moribund. Nutrition was delivered by means of a naso-gastric tube.