Doctors Say Terri Not in PVS State, Could Recover With Proper Care

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 25, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doctors Say Terri Not in PVS State, Could Recover With Proper Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 25, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL ( — Doctors and other medical professionals confirmed what Terri Schiavo’s family has known all along — she is not in a persistent vegetative state and has the ability to recover with proper rehabilitative and medical care.

During the legal battle leading up to the present situation, doctors hired by Michael Schiavo’s attorney to appear in court on his behalf said Terri is not conscious and is in a vegetative state.

They maintained what her family considered attempts at verbal response and the opening and closing of her eyes as mere reflexes rather than an attempt by a mentally disabled woman to communicate as best she could.

Not so say a group of doctors who appeared with the Schindler family at a press conference late Friday.

Dr. John Young, Dr. William Maxfield, and Dr. William Hammesfahr spoke to the media Friday. "This woman is not in a persistent vegetative state," Young said.

Maxfield and Young have examined Terri during the legal battle.

Maxfield, a radiologist, said CT scans from last summer show some damage but not the enormous loss of tissue described by others. "People ought to know she can be rehabilitated," he said.

Hammesfahr, a neurologist from Clearwater, where Terri was hospitalized, is a recognized national expert on PVS and is a Nobel prize nominee.

He says Terri’s eyes clearly fixate on her family and she tries to follow the simple commands her parents give her. "She looks at you, she can follow commands," he said.

"This is a case about a judicial system making an error," Hammesfahr concluded, referring to Judge George Greer granting Michael Schiavo’s request to remove Terri’s feeding tube.

Bobby Schindler says it is obvious that not only does Terri respond and attempt to communicate but that she has memory of her life before questionable circumstances placed her in her disabled state.

He said his sister likes John Denver music and smiles when it plays. Bobby’s sister also knew he enjoyed the music of Bruce Springsteen and Terri bought him an album when they were young.

After he told her he met the rock star recently, Bobby said. "There was a smile on her face to light up the room. … She showed elation."

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Bob and Mary Schindler –