Facts about Karen Quinlan
Karen Ann Quinlan Biography
Karen Ann Quinlan was the first modern icon of the right-to-die debate. The 21-year-old Quinlan collapsed at a party after swallowing alcohol and the tranquilizer Valium on 14 April 1975. Doctors saved her life, but she suffered brain damage and lapsed into a "persistent vegetative state." Her family waged a much-publicized legal battle for the right to remove her life support machinery. They succeeded, but in a final twist, Quinlan kept breathing after the respirator was unplugged. She remained in a coma for almost 10 years in a New Jersey nursing home until her 1985 death.