NATION : Poisoned Man Breathing on Own

From Times Wire Services

A man poisoned by a cocaine-laced malt drink began breathing spontaneously today, hours before he was scheduled to be disconnected from life-support systems, hospital officials said.

It was the first time that Maximo Rene Menendez, 25, who has been in a coma since drinking a contaminated bottle of Pony Malta de Bavaria on July 26, had breathed on his own in the last seven days.

Menendez, who was declared brain-dead Monday, was scheduled to be removed from life support today at the request of his mother.

"He cannot maintain breathing for a long time on his own, but . . . we can't disconnect someone like that," said Dr. Armando Bienes, a neurologist at AMI Kendall Regional Medical Center.

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