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February 18, 2010

Via CNS News: A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine raises new questions surrounding the meaning of PVS (persistent vegetative state) and whether or not Terry Schiavo was even in one.

 This is no surprise to Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler.

 The more anecdotal testimony we heard about the diagnosis of PVS, the more my family was convinced that Terri simply didn’t fit the profile and was never PVS. We also suspected such a diagnosis (typically made at the bedside) was seriously flawed. This became very obvious by the way Terri interacted with my mother, not to mention the videos which clearly showed that Terri was able to track objects and follow simple commands. I was oftentimes rather astonished at the number of different and opposing conclusions I heard from neurologists, physicians, speech therapists and so many other medical professionals who tried to determine whether or not Terri was in a PVS.

 I suppose this brings us back to two questions. 1. Is PVS even grounds for removing various forms of life support? I’m not sure.  It all gets lumped under euthanasia, but I don’t see removing life support as equal to administering a drug with the sole purpose of ending life. Sometimes we have to put people on life support in order to evaluate their condition. It’s hard to tell at that point what the outcome will be. However, there are a lot of people walking around today that wouldn’t be if they hadn’t been put on life support. One can also see parallels between these situations and Tim Tebow, for example. Follow doctor’s advice at your own risk. Although plenty of them think they are, they are not God and omnipotence should not be expected of them.

Question 2: Was Terry Schiavo even in a vegetative state? We may never know now.

 The Journal’s report, released on Feb. 3, revealed that some patients who were believed to be in a PVS were actually able to understand and communicate. Through the use of functional magnetic resonance scanning (fMRI), researchers in the United Kingdom estimated that a percentage of those patients suffering from profound brain injuries possessed the capacity to comprehend and communicate in limited ways.

We do know that the Schindler family went through one of the most devastating experiences imaginable in front of the whole world.  If the circus that followed them during the last days of Terry’s life wasn’t hell on earth then I don’t know what is.

We should all be so lucky as to have a family willing to go through that hell for us. Shiavo’s husband couldn’t be around so much. If I recall, he was busy planning a wedding. Years later, the Schindler family may be on the verge of a bitter-sweet vindication. And if they are vindicated will it bring healing or that crap called closure or will it only multiply their despair?

crossposted at powip, killtruck


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