Terri Schiavo Was Aware and Not Blind When Killed, Doctor Says

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Was Aware and Not Blind When Killed, Doctor Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 20, 2005

Clearwater FL (LifeNews.com) — A physician who examined Terri Schiavo for more than 10 hours and has been nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work in medicine says Terri Schiavo was not blind when she died after 13 days of starvation and dehydration. Dr. William Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist, disputes some of the autopsy results.

"Unlike the constant drumbeat from the husband, his attorneys, and his doctors, the brain tissue was not dissolved, with a head of just spinal fluid," Hammesfahr explained. "In fact, large areas were ‘relatively preserved.’"

Hammesfahr reviewed the autopsy findings and said medical examiner Dr. Jon Thogmartin’s presentation of them was not totally accurate.

"Obviously, the pathologists comments that she could not see were not borne out by reality," he said.

"The autopsy results confirmed my opinion … that the frontal areas of the brains, the areas that deal with awareness and cognition were relatively intact," Hammesfahr added.

As a result, the Florida physician said Terri likely had little trouble with her eyesight in the years leading up to her death.

"In fact, the relay areas from the frontal and front temporal regions of the brain, to the spinal cord and the brain stem, by way of the basal ganglia, were preserved, thus the evident responses which she was able to express to her family and to the clinicians seeing her or viewing her videotape," he said.

"The videotapes clearly showed her seeing, and even Dr. Cranfoed, for the husband, commented to her that, when she could see the balloon, she could follow it with her eyes as per his request," Hammesfahr explained.

The neurologist pointed out that scan confirmed those areas were functional and not scar tissue.

"Ultimately, based on the clinical evidence and the autopsy results, an aware woman was killed," he concluded.

He also said that Thogmartin’s comments that Terri couldn’t swallow were not borne out by the fact that Terri was swallowing her own saliva.

Meanwhile, though the weights of Terri’s brain were accurate, Hammesfahr suspects much of the weight loss was due to the two weeks of dehydration.

Hammesfahr pointed out that the autopsy shows Terri’s collapse was not the result of bulimia, eating disorders or a heart attack. That leaves open the possibility that Terri’s collapse could have been the result of physical abuse.

"As we noted in the press, there was no heart attack, or evident reason for this to have happened (and certainly not of Terri’s making)," he said.

He also indicated that the autopsy did not completely check for all types of physical abuse and he and a neurologist for Michael both agreed neck injuries were present.

Related web sites:
Dr. William Hammesfahr – https://www.hni-online.com
Terri Schiavo’s parents – https://www.terrisfight.org