Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Hidden Agendas?  Outright Fraud?

      According to the stories by the "Kill Schiavo Now" crowd, the CAT scan of Terri's brain showed her cerebral cortex has disappeared, rendering her a vegetable.  There's now evidence that this is a lie.

      CodeBlueBlog has a post by a radiologist, who says that the CAT scan posted online, and purporting to be that of Terri Schiavo, is consistent with a fully functional human who can speak eat, and so on:

If you starve this woman to death it would be, in my professional and experienced medical opinion, the equivalent of starving to death a 75-85 year old person. I would take that to the witness stand.

      There also appears to be a shunt in the brain. This is surprising:
Now...why was Terri being shunted in 1996? First, if Terri's brain damage was due to oxygen deprivation, her enlarged ventricles would be by a passive mechanism -- which is not amenable to shunting -- not by obstruction of the egress of CSF. To me, the presence of a shunt indicates obstruction to the flow of CSF that needs to be circumvented. Obstruction to flow is hard to postulate given the mechanism of Terri's brain injury (oxygen deprivation).

It would NOT be hard to postulate, however, if she had BLOOD in her head at some point in the past. So did she? Was there a history of trauma? I would like to see the BONE SCAN taken of Terri that purportedly showed evidence of traumatic type osseous uptake!

      Or is this not Terri's scan?  Read the whole post, and the comments, for more alarming questions.

      The one thing certain in all this is there are many grave uncertainties surrounding this case.  That's why Terri's case should be examined by disinterested experts.

      Instead, the courts are trying to kill her, because her "guardian" claims it's what she wants.  That scares me, and it ought to scare you.



  • Unless you folks, making all these comments fighting to keep Teresa alive, are qualified doctors, or work in the medical field, or have any formal medical knowledge; I suggest you stop making unfounded comments. Thank you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM  

  • Sorry about misspelling her name. I forgot the "h"; my keyboard will be replaced soon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:03 PM  

  • Anonymous:

          CodeBlueBlog is about medical issues, and the person who posted about Terri, "Dr CBB," says he or she is a radiologist.  Now I've never met "Dr CBB," but the blog has been there a while, and nobody has disputed the poster's medical credentials.  So I think the poster should be presumed to be the real thing for now.  If you have evidence that "Dr. CBB" is a fraud, please present it.

          And what the Dr. said was: 'Based on my medical expertise, after looking at her CT scan, her cerebral cortex was there.  I've seen many fully functional people who had brain scans that look like hers.'

          So I'm puzzled.  Is your argument "CBB is wrong"?  If so, what is your opinion based on?

          Or is your argument that "No one should link to a medical site, except medical personnel"?  Or what?

          By the way, I have worked "in the medical field."  I am a Certified Respiratory Therapy Technician, and as such dealt with many people with brain damage during my years in the field.  What I've seen of Terri Schiavo, via videotape, does not look like a person in a persistent vegetative state.  I may be wrong about that, but I have some rational basis for my opinion.

          You claim people's comments are unfounded.  On what evidence?


    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 9:12 PM  

  • And what are "the qualifications of "Doctor CBB?" Because every doctor that actually examined her seems to diagree. In fact, here are some interesting things about the people who seem to disagree with the prevailing medical opinion:

    Here is some information regarding those "doctors" who decided that the prevailing medical diagnosis of Terri Schiavo is incorrect:

    Dr. William Cheshire

    Dr. William Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., said in a court document that he believed it's more likely that Schiavo is in a "minimally conscious state" than a persistent vegetative one. His testimony was the "new evidence" that Gov. Jeb Bush used to try and gain guardianship of Terri.

    According to Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, president and founder of the American Council on Science and Health:

    Dr. Cheshire is not "renowned" as a neurologist -- his limited publications focus on areas including headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research. Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo, nor did he do neurological tests. Dr. Cheshire is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by "more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists." Everyone is free to be guided by a personal agenda -- and it is clear that Dr. Cheshire has his.

    Dr. Gene Sung, director of the neurocritical care and stroke section of the University of Southern California, said in a recent USA Today article, "unfortunately his feelings, and possibly his religious beliefs, are affecting his medical decision."

    So Dr. Cheshire has had his credentials grossly exaggerated and he is involved with an organization that has an agenda that can very well compromise his medical opinions. He also never actually examined Terri Schiavo.

    Dr. William Hammesfahr

    At a 2002 hearing, Dr. William Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist, said his examination of Schiavo found she is "definitely aware of her mother" and communicating through following instructions and in looking at people.

    On the website of his own institute, the very first words are their mission statement: "God Leaves No One Behind."

    The media is touting him as a Nobel Prize Nominee. That is not the case.

    Also according to Media Matters For America:

    In February 2003, the Florida Board of Medicine ruled that he violated state law by charging a patient for services that were not provided (Finding of Fact No. 71, PDF p. 40). The board fined Hammesfahr $2,000, placed him on probation for six months, and ordered him to pay approximately $52,000 in administrative costs and to perform 100 hours of community service.

    An October 23, 2002, Tampa Tribune article reported that during an October 2002 hearing, George Felos, attorney for Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, questioned Hammesfahr's qualifications, noting that he "charges cash for treatments and advertises himself as a nominee for a Nobel Prize based on a letter his congressman wrote to the Nobel committee." An October 25, 2003, St. Petersburg Times article noted that Greer, who presided over the hearing, called Hammesfahr a "self-promoter" who "offered no names, no case studies, no videos and no test results to support his claim" that he had treated patients worse off than Terri Schiavo.

    The "17 Affidavits"

    Much has been said about the 17 experts that have filed affidavits. The affidavits can be found at Terri's parents' website.

    A critical review of the quality of the arguments in these documents and the qualifications of those who wrote them can be found

    . I already posted more details from that site earlier in this thread so I won't repeat it. But looking at the link will show a few constants about the supposed "expert" testimony:
    Their qualifications are often lacking.
    Almosty all of them refuse to address the issue of Terri's cerebral cortex.
    Not one of the 17 actually examined Terri.

    As you can see from the above, nearly every single "medical expert" that has come to a different conclusion concerning Terri has an agenda, lacks many qualifications of other experts, and never actually did an examination of Terri.

    Meanwhile, the testimony of court-appointed physycians who did thorough examinations of Schiavo many times over throughout the better part of a decade have reached the conclusion that her cerebral cortex has turned into cerebral fluid and that she is in a persistent vegetative state from which she will never recover.

    The courts have consistantly ruled that the prevailing medical opinion is sound. As you can see, this is not surprising.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:37 PM  

  • Anonymous:

          "Dr CBB" claims to be a radiologist, and claims to have examined over 10,000 patients and their CT scans.  He says that the scan, assuming its Terri Schiavo's, is quite comparable to people who are old but demonstrably aware of their surroundings.

          You could have found this out if you'd bothered to look.

          You say every doctor that examines her agrees that she is in a persistent vegetative state.  So far as I know, the family is not allowed to have doctors hired by them give her a thorough examination.

          I don't know whether Dr. Cheshire is "renowned" or not, but he does appear to be a neurologist.  Dr. Whelan has degrees in public health.

          As for the statement that Dr. Cheshire is clearly "guided by a personal agenda," I don't see any evidence offered, just bigotry.

          Similarly, I don't see any evidence for Dr. Sung's opinion.

          You state at the begining of your comment that those who examine Terri says she's vegetative, then write "At a 2002 hearing, Dr. William Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist, said his examination of Schiavo found she is 'definitely aware of her mother' and communicating through following instructions and in looking at people."  I believe this is known as "contradicting oneself."

          And while you continually harp on agendas and organizations that people belong to, you don't bother to inquire whether any of the doctors who found Terri vegetative people have an agenda of their own.  I've heard that called "employing a double standard."

          You say "The courts have consistantly ruled that the prevailing medical opinion is sound," but as far as I can discover, they have done no such thing.  Instead, every appeal has started with the presumption that Judge Greer's "findings of fact" are correct.

          In short, you seem to arguing in a circle.  You decide that anyone who disagrees that Terri was in a vegetative state was incompetent, or didn't examine her thoroughly, or is dishonest, because they didn't come to the conclusion you prefer.

          Me, I've said repeatedly that she ought to have had a thorough examination, including new CAT scans and PET scans, and comparison of her old medical records, by disinterested medical experts.  Instead, her husband prevents any further tests from being done, and as soon as she dies of thirst, her body will be cremated, without autopsy.  If you were a tinfoil hat wearing paranoid like me, that might make you a tad suspicious.

    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 3:20 AM  

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