Schiavo autopsy shows irreversible brain damage
Parents who fought feeding tube removal
to consider legal options
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:02 p.m. ET June 15, 2005
LARGO, Fla. - An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband’s contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner’s office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.
But what caused her collapse 15 years ago remained a mystery.
The autopsy and post-mortem investigation found no proof that she had an eating disorder, as was suspected at the time, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said.
Autopsy results on the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman were made public Wednesday, more than two months after her death on March 31 ended a right-to-die battle between her husband and parents that engulfed the courts, Congress and the White House and divided the country.
Schiavo's husband, Michael, said his wife never would have wanted to be kept alive in what court-appointed doctors concluded was a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, doubted she had any such end-of-life wishes and disputed that she was in a vegetative state.
Schiavo died from dehydration, Thogmartin said. He said she did not appear to have suffered a heart attack and there was no evidence that she was given harmful drugs or other substances prior to her death.
Regardless of the autopsy findings, the Schindlers continue to believe their daughter was not in a persistent vegetative state, their lawyer, David Gibbs III, said after Thogmartin’s report was issued. He said they plan to discuss the autopsy with other medical experts and may take some unspecified legal action.
“We are, at this point, examining every option and no decisions have been made,” Gibbs said.
George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, said his client “was pleased to hear the hard science and evidence of those findings.”
“It’s a hard fact, it’s a scientific fact that Terri Schiavo was blind,” Felos said. He said Michael Schiavo plans to release autopsy photographs of her shrunken brain in the near future.
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