June 15, 2005
Paging Dr. Frist
So once again the religious right was out of touch with reality:
In a victory for Michael Schiavo, a coroner who performed an autopsy on Terri Schiavo reported Wednesday that she suffered from an irreversible brain injury and would not have recovered as her parents insisted was possible. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.
“Her brain was profoundly atrophied,” Jon Thogmartin, medical examiner for Florida’s Pinellas-Pasco County, told a press conference. “There was massive neuronal loss, or death. This was irreversible and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.”
… Thogmartin was joined by Dr. Stephen Nelson, who described her condition as “very consistent with a persistent vegetative state,” which is what Michael Schiavo and most doctors had contended was the case.
… Thogmartin added that Terri Schiavo had been blinded by the injury and that all evidence indicated that she could not have survived without a feeding tube.
As ThinkProgress points out, this sure undermines the diagnosis of renowned heart surgeon Bill Frist, who in March was adamant that Schiavo wasn’t in a persistent vegetative state—and, moreover, wasn’t blind:
“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”
Truly a miracle. Unfortunately the wingnuts are unlikely to let go, because the autopsy failed to uncover what caused Schiavo’s catastrophic illness 15 years ago—and in particular found no evidence that she had an eating disorder that might have stopped her heart.
All of which leaves Schiavo’s husband open to more accusations that her collapse was a result of spousal abuse—an opening the religious right is unlikely to resist.
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