Thursday, June 16, 2005

Call Any Vegetable

Terri Schiavo's autopsy records have been released, and it appears that the right decision was made.

Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who died in March after a fierce right-to-die battle that went all the way to the White House, was massively and irreversibly brain-damaged, pathologists announcing the results of an autopsy said on Wednesday.

The results supported clinical findings and the contention of her husband that Schiavo had been in a "persistent vegetative state" since collapsing 15 years earlier from a cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen, said Dr. Stephen Nelson, a forensic pathologist who assisted in the autopsy.

"She would not have been able to form any cognitive thought," said Nelson, speaking with Pinellas County Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin at a news conference. "There was a massive loss of brain tissue."

Well, to be fair, the same problem afflicts many of the people who were camped outside the hospice, making life for the other patients (yes! other afflicted people! imagine that!) even more miserable. Clearly the campers were unable to form any cognitive thought, obsessed as they were with politicizing the hopeless grief of the Schindlers.

The autopsy found no amount of therapy would have helped to regenerate Schiavo's brain, and determined she was blind, belying videotapes that appeared to show her eyes following objects. The videos were cited by her parents' supporters as proof she should be kept alive.

Schiavo's brain weighed about half of what a healthy human brain would, Thogmartin said. "Her brain was profoundly atrophied ... This damage was irreversible."

It's hard to fault the Schindlers. They did what good parents have to do when an awful tragedy befalls their child -- hope against all odds. (Although they held out far beyond sensible limits.) But Bill Frist, supposedly a licensed medical practitioner, also had attested to Terri Schiavo's supposed ability to respond to visual stimuli.

Of course, this is the same Frist who refused to repudiate the ridiculous notion that AIDS could be transmitted through tears and sweat. So he brings the same level of competence and integrity to the world of medicine as he does to the world of politics.

And of course Michael Schiavo must feel a certain level of vindication, after being publicly savaged and threatened by these cretins. Unfortunately, being cretins, they'll never admit they were just flat-out wrong.


Hammer said...

There are lots of Hammers in the blogosphere. FYI, The Daily Show had a great piece on Frist talking about Schiavo. (Video) I've posted a partial transcript on my blog.

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