Terri Schiavo's autopsy results are in

I wasn't going to comment on this. I really wasn't. Back when it was in full swing a couple of months ago, I commented a couple of times and since then I had gotten sick of the entire case and how the right had made a political football out of what should have been a private matter. But as a doctor it's hard to resist just one brief mention, although I'm sure I'll probably end up regretting it. Today, the results of Terri Schiavo's autopsy were released and are here. There was no evidence of injury or abuse, as claimed by some. Her visual cortex was gone, which casts a bit of doubt on the claims that she could track objects and look at people, although it is possible she could react to light by reflex. Her brain had severe anoxic damage and was only 1/2 the weight of the brain of a normal woman her age.

Unfortunately, as expected, that won't satisfy those who wouldn't let her wishes be fulfilled. Just look at the comments in this post. A couple of examples:
  • The results that are reported on the autopsy report are baloney!!! Of course they're going to say that. I wonder if we'll ever know the real truth. I was very passionate about this when this was going on before she died and just cannot get myself emotionally involved like that again. Too upsetting. I have no faith in our government anymore at all.
  • I have to say that the autopsy isn't going to show what we think.. it's been too long. As for her brain being 1/2 the size of a "normal" brain, that is due to the horrid dehydration they put her through. It's common knowledge that organs shrivel up without hydration. But of course, those jerks, won't tell us that.... *sigh*
(As an aside, dehydration won't cause the brain to shrink nearly that much, nor would it cause the histological findings noted on autopsy.)

More paranoid conspiracy theory rantings are here. It's depressing reading.

But enough already! Let the poor woman rest in peace and let the family try to find some healing. It's over.


  1. I've generally noticed that people in general with all things in general will dispute facts that directly contradict what they think. Although today, one of my friends said, "Kelly, you're basing your opinion [on the Schiavo thing] on a medical model, and I don't really care what the medical facts are."

    So there ya go. Either the facts are wrong or irrelevant. Discussing this topic with people who have either of those viewpoints is a worthless endeavor, especially if your main arguments include, ya know, facts.

  2. Orac: What do you think about the Monday Morning Quarterbacking by some of your fellow phyisicians during the ordeal? In particular, Sen. Frist's "diagnosis" from his office - thanks.

  3. I was more impressed by the fact that she had any brain at all (and even an occasional neuron).

  4. I was more impressed by the fact that she had any brain at all (and even an occasional neuron).


    that opinion is as uninformed (ridiculous, really) as many of the pro-Schindler opinions on this sad case, highlighted here and elsewhere.

    An absence of a brain in a human = death, and it has always been as clear as day that whatever Schiavo was, she most certainly was not not dead prior to March 31.

    In other news, there is a discussion here on doctors and religion. I think this blogger has posted on RI before.


  5. One of the glories of the web is the way that one's preconceptions and assumptions can get so completely overturned. Having grown up in a liberal environment with ex-hippie parents, leftwing friends and so on certain assumptions were built into my worldview. Among these were that it is those on the right who have all the power; that govenments are inherently right-wing, conservative, and illiberal; and that (as a result) conspiracy nuts were all inevitably and by definition lefties (leaving aside those who believed in soviet conspiracies, of course!). (I also grew up thinking of science as anathema, which goes to show how things change).

    In all the above (and much else) the net has been both revelation and culture shock - though I am at last getting to the point where reading neocon nutters making allegations of liberal government conspiracies to cover up autopsy findings scarcely even makes me feel disoriented...

  6. "An absence of a brain in a human = death, and it has always been as clear as day that whatever Schiavo was, she most certainly was not not dead prior to March 31."

    That really depends on how you define "death". Schiavo as a person was dead long before March 31st, but her body lived on long after she was gone.

  7. What is your view on ABORTION?

    While Muslims and Catholics even regard contraceptive evil, Would you like to know what do most people think of these religious taboo?

    See it from the divine perspective ... http://divinetalk.blogspot.com/


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