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March 27, 2006

Terri Schiavo's Collapse

Topics: Terri Schiavo's Life Matters

In an NBC exclusive, Matt Lauer interviewed Michael Schiavo about his upcoming book that Schiavo claims will settle a few scores. Prior to asking Schiavo questions about his wife's 1990 collapse, Lauer laid the following groundwork for the audience:

Terri Schiavo's heart had stopped, apparently from a potassium imbalance doctors at the time suspected was caused by bulimia.
Yet, the Pinellas county medical examiner, Dr. Jon Thogmartin, concluded that Terri Schiavo most likely did not suffer from an eating disorder and did not collapse due to a heart attack [more here, here and here]. His autopsy report includes the following two statements related to these issues:

Thus, the main piece of evidence supporting a diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa is suspect or, at least, can be explained by her clinical condition at the time of the blood draw.

The common term "heart attack" is generally reserved to describe the medical condition of myocardial infarction. Mrs. Schiavo's heart was anatomically normal without any area of recent or remote myocardial infarction.

The only witness of what actually happened to Terri is Michael Schiavo. And, according to court records and public interviews (documented by Mark Fuhrman) Michael has contradicted virtually every element of his description of events. In other words, Michael is not a credible witness. Ironically, Schiavo's book is called "Terri: The Truth."

According to Fuhrman, this doesn't make him guilty of anything except being either untruthful or inconsistent. The problem is that his inconsistencies have never been challenged in a setting that would lead to resolution.

From what I've seen, Lauer failed to ask probing questions but instead gave Schiavo a platform to answer his critics. Lauer doesn't tell the viewing audience that Schiavo's 911 call came in at 5:40, but he does ask the following:

Lauer: You said to me, "somewhere around 5 a.m. I heard a thud and immediately called 911." You know that the accusation has been leveled was that you waited.

Schiavo: No.

Lauer: That you waited a long time, according to some people, to pick up the phone and call the help she desperately needed. How do you respond to that?

Schiavo: They're wrong. I heard the thud. Ran to Terri. Called--after that little gasp, I mean, it was within a minute I was on the phone with 911. They can think whatever. I didn't wear a watch that day, Matt. My interest was not in the time.

What we're left with is simply more of the same. Inconsistencies and contradictions which raise suspicion in the minds of Schiavo's critics. As Furhman notes, witnesses distort the truth for any number of reasons:
Sometimes their failure to do so in perfectly innocent. They're trying to hide an embarrassing g fact, or they forget something in the stress of the moment. Sometimes it's not so innocent--they're trying to hide their complicity in some other criminal activity. Sometimes it's deliberate deception because they are responsible for the crime being investigated.
In Terri's case, any one these scenarios is possible. What is unlikely, is Lauer's suggestion that Terri collapsed as a result of an eating disorder. [note: later in the interview Lauer himself states, "But the medical examiner was skeptical that Terri was bulimic and could not conclusively determine just what caused her collapse 16 years ago".]

For those frustrated and looking for something positive, here it is: A Life that Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo - A Lesson for Us All

Source: ProLifeBlogs

Posted by tim at March 27, 2006 12:27 PM

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