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Overdose victim kept alive by court order dies

September 09, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- After days of watching doctors test her son for signs of life, Angela Lanciano Moreno buried him in a private ceremony Tuesday in Pendleton County, W.Va.

Christian Lanciano, 22, was hospitalized at WVU Hospitals-East in Martinsburg in late August after doctors resuscitated him from a heroin overdose. He died Monday.

"Losing Christian has put such an emptiness in all of us," Moreno said Wednesday. "He was an awesome person."

Moreno, a resident of Gerrardstown, W.Va., stopped her son's life support on Labor Day when the final test she sought to assess his brain activity came back with poor results.

"We did all the tests," she said. "The results were not good."

Moreno said she convinced doctors to perform the tests on her son by obtaining a temporary restraining order from 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh on Aug. 31. That order prohibited the hospital from removing Lanciano from life support for 10 days.

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Her attorney, Paul Taylor, said the temporary restraining order was the only way for Moreno to keep her son alive long enough to have more tests performed.

"The whole reason for the court order was to do more testing," Moreno said. "I could not live with myself if I did not know for 100 percent certain he had no hope of recovering."

While the most-definitive test, an apnea test, was temporarily blocked by the restraining order as it required stopping life support for up to 10 minutes, Moreno said each test slowly confirmed her worst fear.

Taylor filed a motion to amend the restraining order, which the judge awarded Sept. 4, he said.

When Lanciano failed the apnea test, Moreno said she knew he would not recover.

"It has been absolutely horrific," she said. "There are no words to express the loss our family is suffering. I can't even tell you."

Hospital staff successfully resuscitated Christian on Aug. 22 after five injections of the opiate antidote Naloxone and five shocks with a defibrillator, Moreno said.

Unfortunately, he had gone without oxygen for too long, she said.

A memorial for Lanciano is being planned by friends, Moreno said. No date has been set.

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