Thursday, June 16, 2005

Scientific Hubris

Yesterday, Terri Schiavo’s autopsy report was released. We learned that Terri’s brain was severely atrophied and that she actually was in what doctors call a Persistent Vegetative State or PVS. Terri, they say, was also blind as a result of her deteriorated brain.

Now please do not get me wrong. I believe that there is an absoluteness to true science. I do not, however, believe that scientists, in this case medical doctors, know all there is to know about the brain. True, we have come a long way baby, but there is still much to be learned about the brain.

It has been reported that Terri would cry when her family had to leave her. She was known to have, at times, followed orders such as squeezing her eyes shut and opening them wide on command. According to nurses, she was also reactive to pain.

I saw the videos and heard the audio to go along with those videos and it did not appear to me that Terri was in PVS. At times, she responded appropriately to the people around her. She laughed at their teasing, she tried to talk to her mother when her mother was talking to her, she followed a balloon as it passed in front of her. She smiled when her mother was speaking to her. I also noted that Terri did not appear to drool, which told me that she could probably be spoon fed.

Dr. Hammesfahr’s report confirms what I felt I had observed with my own eyes in the videos released to the press. These videos were released by Mr. Schindler (Terri’s father) defying a court order to not release them. That the courts did not want these videos released to the general public spoke volumes to me.

In my humble opinion, it is terribly arrogant on the part of doctors to insist that a patient is in a vegetative state and deem cognitive responses as mere reflexive action. Obviously a good portion of Terri Schiavo’s brain was dead, but she was not in a vegetative state. The part of the brain which enables a person to have sight was dead, but there have been cases in which a person’s brain miraculously found a different path within the brain to regain their sight. I think that quite possibly this was the case with Terri. Like I said, science still has much to learn about the brain and I think they should humble themselves when the case warrants it.

Dawn's Deliberations Copyright © 2005



The purpose of this blog is to express my thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics. It may also include experiences of everyday life. I am also hoping it will get me motivated to write on a regular basis in an effort to improve my grammar and punctuation. I welcome all points of view, but will not tolerate ad hominem or bad language. I reserve the right to delete posts which I feel cross the line into these two categories.