Schiavo-Ruling allows removal of woman's feeding tube

  1. Feb. 22, 2005, 1:02PM

    Ruling allows removal of woman's feeding tube
    Associated Press

    DUNEDIN, Fla.-A Florida appeals court allowed a stay to expire today that had blocked the husband of a severely brain-damaged woman from removing her feeding tube.

    The 2nd District Court of Appeal offered no specific instructions in a one-page mandate issued in the case of Terri Schiavo, who was left brain damaged 15 years ago. That means Michael Schiavo could order his 41-year-old wife's tube removed within hours of the appeals court action, which ended the last judicial stay blocking the tube's removal.

    But Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were seeking an emergency stay from a Pinellas County judge in hopes of keeping their daughter alive long enough for them to file additional legal pleadings in the case.

    It would likely take several days for Terri Schiavo to die if the tube is pulled.

    The appeals court's mandate allowed Michael Schiavo to act under previous court rulings in the years-long, highly emotional legal battle.

    The appeals court has consistently upheld lower court rulings that Terri Schiavo had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, although she left no written directive.

    In October 2003, she went without food or water for six days before Gov. Jeb Bush pushed through a new law letting him order the tube be reinserted. The Florida Supreme Court later struck down his action as unconstitutional.

    The courts also sided with Michael Schiavo when he had the tube removed for two days in 2001.

    Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who twice has granted Michael Schiavo permission to remove the feeding tube, was asked to issue an emergency stay that would keep Terri Schiavo alive while her parents seek to oust their son-in-law as her guardian. The parents are also seeking additional medical tests which might back their assertion that their daughter has some mental capabilities.

    George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, did not have any immediate reaction.

    Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage on Feb. 25, 1990, when a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating and cut off oxygen to her brain.

    While she breathes on her own, she relies on the feeding tube to survive. Doctors have ruled she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

    Still, her parents who visited her nearly every day report their daughter laughed, cried, smiled and responded to their voices. Video showing the dark-haired woman appearing to interact with her family has been televised nationally. But the court-appointed doctor has said the noises and facial expressions are reflexes.

    Both sides accused each other of being motivated by greed over a $1 million medical malpractice award from doctors who failed to diagnose the chemical imbalance. The Schindlers argue Michael Schiavo should divorce their daughter.http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printsto.../front/3051584
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  2. 71 Comments

  3. by   BeachNurse
    Emergency Stay Issued in Right-To-Die Case
    Posted: Tuesday February 22,2005
    By VICKIE CHACHERE, Associated Press Writer

    DUNEDIN, Fla. - The case of a severely brain-damaged woman remained locked in a legal stalemate Tuesday after an appeals court cleared the way for her husband to remove her feeding tube only to see a judge promptly block the removal for at least another day.

    Slideshow: Terri Schiavo Right-to-Die Case

    The 2nd District Court of Appeal offered no specific instructions in a one-page mandate issued in the case of Terri Schiavo, who was left brain damaged 15 years ago. That meant her husband, Michael Schiavo, could order his wife's tube be removed.

    But Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer later issued an emergency stay blocking removal of the feeding tube until 5 p.m. EST Wednesday. Greer, who has been overseeing the long-standing dispute, scheduled a hearing on the case for Wednesday.

    Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had sought the stay in hopes of keeping their daughter alive long enough for them to file additional legal pleadings. They are trying to oust their son-in-law as her guardian and seeking medical tests which might back their assertion that their daughter has some mental capabilities.

    It would likely take several days for Terri Schiavo to die if the tube is pulled.

    The appeals court's mandate allowed Michael Schiavo to act under previous court rulings in the years-long, highly emotional legal battle.

    The court has consistently upheld lower court rulings that Terri Schiavo had expressed wishes not to be kept alive artificially, although she left no written directive.

    In October 2003, she went without food or water for six days before Gov. Jeb Bush pushed through a new law letting him order the tube be reinserted. The Florida Supreme Court later struck down his action as unconstitutional.

    The courts also sided with Michael Schiavo when he had the tube removed for two days in 2001.

    George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, did not have any immediate reaction.

    Terri Schiavo suffered severe brain damage on Feb. 25, 1990, when a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder caused her heart to stop beating and cut off oxygen to her brain.

    While she breathes on her own, she relies on the feeding tube to survive. Doctors have ruled she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery.

    Still, her parents, who visit her nearly every day, report their daughter laughed, cried, smiled and responded to their voices. Video showing the dark-haired woman appearing to interact with her family has been televised nationally. But the court-appointed doctor has said the noises and facial expressions are reflexes.

    Both sides accused each other of being motivated by greed over a $1 million medical malpractice award from doctors who failed to diagnose the chemical imbalance. The Schindlers argue Michael Schiavo should divorce their daughter.
    http://www.sierratimes.com/rss/newsw...100447&feed=us
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I truly feel for this woman's family. What a tough case......sad.
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Help Save My Daughter From Starvation! (from Terri Schiavo's father)

    Dear Friend of Life,

    By now you have probably heard about a young woman who is threatened with starvation in Florida.

    That young woman is my daughter, Terri. In 1990, through circumstances which are shrouded in mystery (and may involve a criminal act by Terri's estranged husband), my daughter was left severely brain-damaged.

    But before I go any further, I must put an end to the lies and misinformation that are circulating around the country through the media concerning my daughter's condition.

    Contrary to anything you may have heard, Terri is NOT brain dead; Terri is NOT in a coma; she is NOT in a "persistent vegetative state;" nor is she on ANY life-support system.Terri Schiavo responds to her mother's touch, Terri laughs, Terri cries, she moves, and she makes child-like attempts at speech with her mother and me. Sometimes she will say "Mom" or "Dad" or "yeah" when we ask her a question. When I kiss her hello or goodbye, she looks at me and "puckers up" her lips.

    This may not seem like much to you, but it means everything to Terri's mother and me. It tells us she is still here, she still knows us, and with therapy and time she can have some level of recovery.

    I know that there are some hard hearted people who believe that due to my daughters condition, she is better off dead. Words cannot describe the pain and anger such sentiments cause us. This is our daughter, our little girl, and even in her disabled condition, she still has the right to life and the right to be loved and cared for by her family.

    Why, you may ask, is Terry in danger of death by starvation?

    It is a long and outrageous story, but I'll give it to you as briefly as I can.

    After the "incident" that left Terry in this condition, her husband Michael Schiavo sued various members of the medical community for money, saying that they did not treat or diagnose her properly at an early stage, and that he needed this money to provide for Terri's therapy and rehabilitation and care.

    After lengthy court battles, he finally won upwards of $1.7 million under the guise of caring for our daughter, and then to our horror, he immediately began spending the money on himself and his Playboy lifestyle.

    Terri's estranged husband Michael Schiavo has been living with another woman for years, and has two children by her. He is determined to see Terri dead. Why? We believe it's because he gets to keep whatever money is left... and he may have even darker motives than that.

    To add insult to all of this injury toward my daughter, Michael Schiavo is still her "legal husband" and therefore is her "guardian." And since they are not legally divorced, he controls whatever health care she will and will not get. We are not even allowed to know if she is getting aspirin.

    In 1993 my family initiated litigation against Michael Schiavo solely for the purpose of acquiring medical, physical and neurological assistance for our daughter Terri. The litigation escalated in 1998 when Michael Schiavo petitioned the court to stop Terri from receiving food and water, thereby starving her to death.

    In filing this legal action, he retained the services of a high profile euthanasia attorney and the financial backing of powerful euthanasia organizations. He also used Terri's medical rehabilitation money to underwrite much of the legal expenses associated with his effort to starve our daughter to death.

    We know that he has spent nearly $500,000 of Terri's money in attorney's fees for just one attorney trying to obtain a court order to have Terri starved to death. The very money that was supposed to be used for Terri's rehabilitation is being used to have her killed.

    We very quickly discovered it was impossible for us to compete with the abundance of financial and legal resources the pro-death organizations were providing Micheal Schiavo in their effort to kill Terri. They are pouring time and effort into her starvation because they want to use this case to further the agenda of legalized euthanasia.

    My wife and I are not wealthy people. Throughout those years, we did not have any large organizations trying to help rescue our daughter. Consequently, we had to rely on the generosity of attorneys who were willing to offer their legal expertise at no cost or at reduced fees.

    The bottom line is that we are in the final weeks or months of our struggle to rescue our daughter from an untimely death by starvation. Death by starvation is very slow, and extremely painful. As you must know, it is against the law to deliberately starve an animal to death. There are members of the Florida court who would not treat a dog the way they plan to treat my daughter.

    At this point we must pull out all the stops in our fight to rescue our daughter.

    As parents, we are desperate to save our daughter's life. As people who love life, we are determined to deprive the euthanasia advocates of successfully legalizing this form of homicide. We believe that their efforts to kill Terri are designed to set a precedent for the future eradication of defenseless disabled human beings. I was alive when Americans fought the Nazis; I do not want my daughter to meet the same fate of thousands of disabled people in Nazi Germany, and I do not want our country to go down that same dark path.


    Our adversaries believe that by our family's financial attrition and difficulties, they will attain their objective of killing our daughter. Presently, Terri's starvation may only be a few weeks away, unless we find the financial resources to prevent this atrocity from becoming a reality.

    I implore you to please help us. We are writing to you, because we believe you have a heart for justice and mercy. ........
    ....Please do whatever you can, and forward this e-mail to any friends or family that you have who you think might be interested in saving Terri's life.

    I thank you for your time, your concern, and I solicit your prayers for Terri and our entire family. These have been very trying times for us all.

    Sincerely,

    Bob Schindler Sr.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Feb 23, '05 : Reason: edited to conform with TOS re solicitation
  6. by   Mkue
    She's not brain dead and not in a coma, I can't imagine any court allowing her to starve to death.

    She moves, she cries, she laughs and the parents want her to continue to live. The husband probably doesn't visit her, although I don't know for sure.
  7. by   KrisRNwannabe
    I truly believe her husband had something to do with this. with her dead, there is no chance she will recover and tell what really happened. he oughta file for divorce if he wants to be with his girlfriend and their kids. yet he won't curious???? they talk that there is no money left, i would think if there was no money left there would be no reason for him to stay married to her. he talks of how much he loves her, yeah right. if he loved her so much he wouldn't have had a girlfriend shortly after her "accident". this case really gets me. if they take that feeding tube out it will be several weeks before she would die. that is cruel to let her starve to death. i have seen the videos, this women RESPONDS and laughs. i have also heard statements from the admitting physician saying that she had suffered damaging head trauma.
  8. by   Mkue
    good post Kris

    Also I wonder if the husband is or could be set to make $$ off of the story either by a book or movie as long as he's in charge of her future.
  9. by   fergus51
    OK, some minor points:

    She wouldn't "starve" to death, she would be dehydrated. Semantics to some, I know.

    Although the parents don't think she is in a persistent vegetative state, the court appointed doctors do. What possible motive could they have to lie?

    The parents believe Terry is responding to them. That film of her "responding" to her parents was an edited one, and health care workers have said she makes the same actions with or without the parents there and sometimes doesn't make them even with the parents prodding. Reflexes do not indicate higher brain function. I've had parents thrilled that their baby moved after we told them it would die and I couldn't convince them that seizure activity was anything other than the baby responding to their voice. Sometimes parents believe what they want to believe and that's fine, but I think it's important to acknowledge the medical professionals disagree.

    If there is no money left and the husband is still trying to do this, it might actually be because he believes it is what his wife would have wanted. If this happened to me, I would want the tube removed and anyone who loved me would fight to have it done.

    This may or may not be what this woman wanted. I don't know. Neither do any of the rest of us. I won't judge the husband so harshly.
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Terri's parents and siblings want to take care of her. She has already lived years in this state, whatever you want to call it. The husband needs to let go, let her family take care of her and get on with his life. Just my thoughts.

    I completely agree that I wouldn't want a feeding tube placed if I was in the same state but this comes too late in my opinion. She responds, she isn't comatose, THE FEEDING TUBE IS ALREADY THERE, there is some question about the rehab potential that was lost at first because dear hubby didn't allow her to have rehab.

    Some of us just feel that actively removing her feeding tube is actively killing her and as a nurse, I don't believe in actively taking a person's life.

    Turning off a ventilator on a brain dead person is different.

    Terri can breathe on her own.

    He just needs to bow out. He was married to her a short time . . her parents have had her for her entire life. If they want to care for her, do the kind thing and back off.

    steph
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from stevielynn
    Terri's parents and siblings want to take care of her. She has already lived years in this state, whatever you want to call it. The husband needs to let go, let her family take care of her and get on with his life. Just my thoughts.

    I completely agree that I wouldn't want a feeding tube placed if I was in the same state but this comes too late in my opinion. She responds, she isn't comatose, THE FEEDING TUBE IS ALREADY THERE, there is some question about the rehab potential that was lost at first because dear hubby didn't allow her to have rehab.

    Some of us just feel that actively removing her feeding tube is actively killing her and as a nurse, I don't believe in actively taking a person's life.

    Turning off a ventilator on a brain dead person is different.

    Terri can breathe on her own.

    He just needs to bow out. He was married to her a short time . . her parents have had her for her entire life. If they want to care for her, do the kind thing and back off.

    steph
    I agree 100%. The time to 'remove' the feeding tube was way back, before it was ever put in. I say, let her parents take care of her.......to remove the feeding tube now, as her so-called husband wants, is no less than murder IMHO. :stone
  12. by   fergus51
    That's fine that YOU guys feel that way. All I'm saying is that some people don't (I don't). She might be one of them, she might not. My point is we don't know, so all we can do is put our own beliefs into it and interpret the situation based on those beliefs.

    I'll say again, I would never forgive anyone for leaving me in a persistent vegetative state like this woman is just because I can still breathe. I can't imagine any hypothetical husband of mine allowing me to live like that by simply passing the buck to my parents. I also hope my parents love me enough to accept a medical diagnosis instead of hiding from their grief in denial and let me go. I've seen too much suffering inflicted because people are unwilling to accept reality. I don't want to be the one in the hospital bed being poked and prodded with no hope of recovery just to spare my parents feelings. Maybe that makes me a bad daughter, but I really don't care. I'd want them to deal with it and let me go with dignity. Those are my beliefs and biases and you can imagine they cloud how I see this story.

    Can people even acknowledge that it's possible that living in a persistent vegetative state isn't what this woman would have wanted? Just possible.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Feb 23, '05
  13. by   mattsmom81
    I agree with you Fergus. I've also seen parents and spouses utterly convinced (against ALL medical opinions) that their loved one is 'in there'. Too often it is useless to try and educate them, any attempt often angers them.

    Terry's parents have made this into a vendetta, its clear. they have likely ruined Terry's husband's life. They want to take her care on, but at whose expense??? Now they want to ruin her husband financially too. When the money is gone, who will pay for Terry's exoenses? Taxpayers??

    I agree this is a sad situation, but I sure wouldn't want to be kept alive this way (yes I have it in writing) IMO too many people ARE kept alive in futile, vegetative conditions...dying slowly of bedsores, pneumonia, etc...I know you guys see them too...we're all nurses and know. I believe THIS is wrong. JMHO.
  14. by   Roy Fokker
    You know what also saddens me?

    Ever since I got into nursing school, I've been advocating advance directives and BLS left, right and center. I've been pushing it on numerous forums and internet sites.

    Sadly, not too many people are taking up the offer or even thinking about it. Which means we are all potentially inviting future cases as the days pass.

    It's one of the first things I ever did, was to draw up my advance directives and get it signed and witnessed. I know too many people don't like thinking about it - it does deal with their own mortality after all, but I believe the benefits far outweigh the costs - both emotional as well as financial.

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