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Theresa Schiavo

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Justice for Theresa Schiavo

The case of Theresa (Terri) Marie Schiavo was a very well known in 2005. This case is the classic no win-win situation. Everyone will have a different point of view and perspective regarding this case. Terri was born on December 3, 1963 in Pennsylvania. In 1984 at age 20, she married her husband, Michael Schiavo, 21. Six years later something happened that changed her life forever. On February 25, 1990 Terri suffered from a cardiac arrest which caused her some brain damage leaving her in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). PVS can be defined as "a clinical condition of unawareness of self and environment, in which the patient, has a stable circulation, and shows cycles of eye closure and opening [that] may simulate sleep and waking". She was able to breathe on her own. However; she was given a percutaneous endoscopy gastronomy (PEG) to provide nutrition and hydration. Her husband becomes her guardian, which her parents, Mr,&Ms.Schindler, did not object. Terri was moved several times around from rehab to rehab and even different states for continuous testing. In 1992, two years after her accident Ms.Schiavo’s physician awards more than one million dollars. Her husband received $300,000 and about $750,000 was put in a trust fund specifically for Terri’s medical care. Just five months after Michael received the money Terri’s parents tried to become the guardian but courts decline. This is the part where it gets a little tricky and makes you wonder. Why did her parents never objected on her husband being the guardian before? Why did her parents decide to become her guardian, after there is money involved? It could have been a coincidence, but it makes you wonder.
Years went by and Michael did not lose hope on Terri; till many years later, eight years to be exact. After eight years Michael petitions the court to authorize the removal of his wife PEG tube, which the Schindlers, her parents opposed. The court then appoints Richard Pearse a healthcare provider to serve as the second guardian. Mr.Pearse issued his report which he concluded that Ms.Schiavo’s was in PVS with no chance of improvement. In 2000, the trial begins and judge Greer rules that the PEG be removed. It was not until a year later that her PEG tube was removed for the first time ( April 24,2001) and was reinserted two days later. The trial went on for years and in 2003 the tube was removed for the second time and reinserted six days later. That same year Prof. Jay Wolfson from University of South Florida, also concluded that Terri Schiavo was is PVS with no chance of improvement.
I believe Michael’s loved his wife, Terri, was genuine. Rumors said they were having issues, but even if that was the case which marriage of six years don’t have their issues here and there, that’s part of marriage and is not all a fairytale. On March 18, 2005 the PEG tube was removed for the third and final time, thirteen days later Terri’s soul was finally able to rest in peace. Dr. Jon Thogmartin’s medical examiner autopsy report showed that Terri Schiavo’s condition was consistent with a person in persistent vegetative state and it also showed that the damage was irreversible. He stated “No amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons”. Even the results of the investigation that Governor Jeb Bush requested to investigate the amount of time that elapsed between the time Ms. Schiavo collapsed and her husband call 911, found no evidence of wrongdoing by Michael. In my opinion, Michael tried to help his wife by taking her to therapies and not giving up but after realizing the amount of time that had elapse and that she was not going to get any better he decided what was best for her. Life is not life by being hooked on a PEG tube for years and not being able to enjoy anything that surrounds you. People do not realize that sometimes we act selfish because we do not want to let go of something or someone we love. I believe this is what happened with the Schindlers. They might have wanted to keep their daughter for as long as they could not realizing she had no quality of life. It is not a matter of which side is right or wrong. It is a matter of what was right for Terri. She did not deserve to be dependent on a machine for the rest of her life.
Michael’s battled Terri’s situation for years and he did not have to. He could have simply gave up on Terri and let her parents deal with the situation; but instead he took care of her and it was not until eight years later that he decided to remove the PEG when all medical sources were exhausted. Michael Schiavo told the court he and Terri had talked about life support when her grandmother was in a nursing home, unconscious for weeks and on a ventilator. He testified that Terri had said, “If I ever have to be a burden to anybody, I don’t want to live like that.” There is always two sides to a story and I will never know exactly what happened, I can only go based on facts. It is sad to see how some people can become so greedy over money because it was not until the money came in the picture that the parents wanted to become the guardian and the trial began. People think because Michael got $1.3 million that that is enough for him to want to kill his wife, but fail to realize that out of $1.3 million more than $700,000 was placed in a trust fund to cover Terri’s therapy and medical treatment. Michael was also awarded $600,000 to compensate for his loss. WND news reported that more than half of the money earmarked for Terri Schiavo’s medical care has been spent on Michael Schiavo’s eight-year legal battle to end her life. This case is no win-win situation for anyone. Michael lost his wife and the Schindlers lost their daughter; but Terri is now finally in a better place. Let’s forget about who won in court and who has the money, let’s focus on Terri. The most significant ethically relevant characteristic of human beings whose brains have ceased to function is not that they are members of our species, but that they have no prospect of regaining consciousness. Without consciousness, continued life cannot benefit PVS patients.

Left: CT scan of normal brain; Right: Schiavo's 2002 CT scan provided by Ronald Cranford, showing loss of brain tissue. The black area is liquid, indicating hydrocephalus. The small white piece in the right image is the Thalamic stimulator implanted in her brain.

References

Kathy Cerminara. (2014). Miami.edu. In Ethics program. Retrieved 01/22/2014, from http://www.miami.edu/index.php/ethics/projects/schiavo/schiavo_timeline/.

Wolfson, Jay (2003-12-01). "A report to Governor Jeb Bush and the Sixth Judicial Circuit in the matter of Theresa Marie Schiavo". abstractappeal.com. pp. 2, 8, 10. Retrieved 2011-09-21.

Peter Baklinski. ( April 11, 2012 ). Lifesite News. In Bioethicist argues PVS diagnosed patients should not be kept alive. Retrieved 01/21/2014, from http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bioethicist-argues-all-pvs-diagnosed-patients-should-not-be-kept-alive.

Diana Lynne. ( 03/24/2005 ). WND. In The whole Terri Schiavo story. Retrieved 01/21/2014, from http://www.wnd.com/2005/03/29516/.

NBCNews. ( 6/15/2005). NBCNews. In Schiavo autopsyshows irreversiblebrain damage . Retrieved 01/202014, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/8225637/ns/us_news/t/schiavo-autopsyshows-irreversiblebrain-damage/#.UuMkn2co600.…...

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