News of the Day ... In Perspective6/18/2005
Schiavo autopsy report released; Governor calls for further review
Florida Governor Jeb Bush has called for a review of the highly suspicious and unexplained cause of the collapse of Terri Schiavo, which led to her state-mandated death early this year. The governor cites unexplained gaps in the timeline the night Terri collapsed, and Terri's family has long complained about discrepancies in the stories told about Terri on that fateful day. (www.sptimes.com)
According to the autopsy report, there was no evidence of an eating disorder or heart attack.
Medical examiner Jon Thogmartin, M.D., said Mrs. Schiavo’s brain was about half the normal weight for a 41-year-old woman. He also said that she was blind. Thus, she would not have been able to visually track a balloon (although a video purportedly shows her doing just that), an ability that rules out the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state
Dr. Thogmartin said that the autopsy results were “consistent” with the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state (New York Times 6/16/05).
Neurologist Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, said that there are no autopsy findings diagnostic of PVS, which is purely a clinical diagnosis.
Despite earlier reports of evidence of multiple fractures on a bone scan, the medical examiner found only one fracture, of a vertebral body, that he said was probably caused by osteoporosis.
No x-rays have been released, and there has been no specific comment about the presence or absence of an old fracture of the cricoid cartilage, which would be evidence of attempted strangulation.
Terri’s parents wanted to bring in an independent expert, Dr. Cyril Wecht, well-known forensic pathologist and coroner of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to observe the autopsy. Dr. Thogmartin’s office refused the request.
Democrats say the autopsy results vindicate critics of the attempted federal intervention and the state-ordered dehydration, which the autopsy, not surprisingly, confirmed as the cause of death.
In related news, former Lee County Sheriff John J. McDougall was convicted of trespassing and sentenced to six months’ probation, a $600 fine, and community service for attempting to enter Terri’s room to bring her water. He had refused to pay a $250 fine and demanded a trial.