Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo Was Unavailable For Comment



Dr. Peter Saunders wrote

The Sunday Times today tells the story of Martin Pistorius, a South African man who ended up paralyzed and comatose following a throat infection at the age of 12. His awareness began to improve four years later and by the age of 19 had fully returned.

However it was a further five years before a therapist noticed that he was trying to communicate. The penny eventually dropped that he had been aware of everything going on around him for almost ten years whilst everybody had assumed he was unconscious.

As the opening question in what NPR says is a new program on human behavior called “Invisibila” [“how invisible things shape our behavior and our lives”], Lulu Miller asks

What would you do if you were locked in your body, your brain intact but with no way to communicate? How do you survive emotionally when you are invisible to everyone you know and love?

Miller writes in more detail, but the picture of Martin’s early years is grimly the same. In the late 1980s, at age 12 he came down with a mysterious disease which got progressively worse (the best guess doctors could make was cryptococcal meningitis). Interestingly, Miller never uses what came to be the final diagnosis: locked-in syndrome

Eventually he lost even his ability to make eye contact and finally his capacity to speak. His parents were told to take him home to prepare for his death, but Martin did not die.

His parents’ steadfast commitment to his care is remarkable. For example, his dad, Rodney, got up at the crack of dawn, Miller writes, and would

get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the special care center where he’d leave him.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney says.

That was their lives, for 12 years

Still Miller does not paint Martin’s parents as some sort of plaster saints. Joan Miller, not thinking her son was “there” to could hear her,

vividly remembers looking at Martin one day and saying: “‘I hope you die.’ I know that’s a horrible thing to say,” she says now. “I just wanted some sort of relief.”

What she couldn’t know of her boy who “just kept going, just kept going,” was that the now-39-year-old Martin heard her perfectly, not from the beginning of his “vegetative” state, but from about two years later when he was around 14. Continue reading

Terri Schiavo Was Unavailable For Comment

Jesus Wept:

People with severe brain injuries sometimes emerge from a coma awake but unresponsive, leaving families with painful questions. Are they aware? Can they think and feel? Do they have any chance of recovery?

A new study has found that PET scans may help answer these wrenching questions. It found that a significant number of people labeled vegetative had received an incorrect diagnosis and actually had some degree of consciousness and the potential to improve. Previous studies using electroencephalogram machines and M.R.I. scanners have also found signs of consciousness in supposedly vegetative patients.

“I think these patients are kind of neglected by both medicine and society,” said Dr. Steven Laureys, an author of the new study and the director of the Coma Science Group at the University of Liège in Belgium. “Many of them don’t even see a medical doctor or a specialist for years. So I think it’s very important to ask the question, are they unconscious?”

In the United States, 100,000 to 300,000 people are thought to be minimally conscious, and an additional 25,000 are vegetative. In Belgium, the combined incidence of the two conditions is about 150 new cases per year, Dr. Laureys said.

An article about the new research was published on Tuesday in The Lancet.

Dr. Laureys and his colleagues studied 122 patients with brain injuries, including 41 who had been declared vegetative — awake but with no behavioral signs of awareness. People who are vegetative for a year are thought to have little or no chance of recovering, and the condition can become grounds for withdrawing medical treatment. Terri Schiavo, in a vegetative state for 15 years, died in 2005 in Florida after courts allowed the removal of her feeding tube. Continue reading

Terri Schiavo Is Still Unavailable for Comment


Terry Wallis showed only fleeting hints of consciousness for 19 years after he suffered a brain injury in a road accident. But then, in 2003, at age 39, he began to speak. It started with “Mom,” and then “Pepsi,” but soon he was slowly stringing sentences together and holding down his end of a conversation.

Far too often, patients like Wallis are given up for gone, left to languish in nursing homes where no one bothers with physical therapy or even to check for glimmers of regained consciousness, says Joseph Fins, a medical ethicist at Weill Cornell Medical College.

That’s at odds with a growing body of research showing that many patients with no outward signs of awareness retain some degree of consciousness. “We began to see patients who looked like they were vegetative, but they weren’t,” said Fins. “They were beginning to show responsiveness, they were sort of breaking the rules.”

Terri Schiavo Could Not Be Reached For Comment

Here is some new research for a court to consider prior to sentencing another person in a vegetative state to death by dehydration , as was done to Terri Schiavo:



A Canadian man presumed to be in a permanent vegetative state for more than a decade is “talking” to researchers and answering their questions.

Severely brain injured in a traffic crash 12 years ago, Scott Routley’s  condition had been officially classified “vegetative state,” unable to  communicate with the outside world.

His family has always believed differently.

Now, high-tech brain imaging appears to have proven them right.

With the help of functional MRI, Routley has been able to answer “No” to the  question, “Are you in pain?”

The finding, first reported Tuesday by the BBC, could have  profound implications for helping those locked in a vegetative state.

“Brain imaging techniques are helping us to  understand more about what some of these patients can and can’t do, particularly  things they can do that might not be apparent from standard clinical  examination,” said Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for  Brain and Mind. The British neuroscientist moved to Canada last year from the University of Cambridge.

“His official clinical condition has been that he was in a vegetative state.  But his family have always maintained that there is more going on with Scott — that he is aware of many things going on around him, and even that he was able  to communicate,” Owen said in an interview with Postmedia News. Continue reading

Oops, Guess He Was Not In A Persistent Vegetative State!

Ron Houben was paralyzed and trapped in his own body for 23 years.  Doctors labeled him as being in a coma and in a persistent vegetative state.  As the Mail Online reports, they were gravely in error:

Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them – but could make no sound.

‘I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,’ said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegetative state.

Three years ago new high-tech scans revealed that his brain was functioning normally.

His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who ‘saved’ him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.

‘Medical advances caught up with him,’ said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.

Dr Laureys’s new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed.

‘Anyone who bears the stamp of “unconscious” just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,’ he said.

The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben’s brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging.

He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world. Continue reading

Father and Daughter Reunited

Robert Schindler,Sr., the father of Terri Schiavo has died.  National Right to Life has released this letter:


WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life group, today joined with pro-lifers nationwide in mourning the passing of our dear friend Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schindler Schiavo. Mr. Schindler died this morning in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend,” said Wanda Franz, Ph.D., National Right to Life President. “His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne.”

Despite facing legal setbacks at virtually every turn, the Schindlers, with their children at their side, fought unceasingly to defend the right of their daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo, to receive food and fluids. Their brave struggle ended on March 31, 2005, when Terri died from a court-ordered withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.

Following Terri’s death, the family began advocating for other medically dependent and disabled patients facing similar circumstances through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.

In 2007, the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund honored the Schindler family with the Proudly Pro-Life Award for their dedication and public witness to the cause of life.

“In life, Bob, and his wife Mary, never sought the spotlight. They only wished to care for their beloved daughter, Terri. Through their selfless dedication to Terri, they showed the nation and the world what it means when someone says they are ‘pro-life’,” added David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., National Right to Life Executive Director.

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest pro-life group is a federation of affiliates in all 50 states and 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”


Terri Schiavo of course was judicially murdered by the State of Florida in 2005 at the behest of her “loving husband”, Michael Schiavo.  A few comments about that judicial travesty: Continue reading

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