This past Monday on the show "This Week", George Stephanopoulos, in an interview with Senator Fred Thompson, commented that Terri Schiavo's autopsy proved she was "brain dead." The New York Times also reported on this interview, repeating that the autopsy proved Terri was "brain dead."
This is patently false and Terri's family is requesting that the media immediately stop using this offensive and inaccurate expression to describe her condition.
Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, explained that, "Brain death is an authentic diagnosis, not some catch phrase that should be loosely used based upon a 'summary of widespread response' or opinions that have been written about my sister. … He emphasized that “not one doctor ever diagnosed Terri as being 'brain-dead.' This includes those who wrote her autopsy report. All of this information is easily available and accessible."
Schindler also pointed out another inaccuracy in the reporting of his sister’s death, “[r]arely, if ever, mentioned in media reports are the more than 40 doctors' affidavits submitted to the court that either contradicted that Terri was in a so-called PVS or stated that she could have been helped with proper rehabilitation.”
The media also fails to report the medical records confirming that Terri at one time was beginning to speak, or the videos of Terri interacting with her family and her surroundings, all of which prove that she was very much alive, and very much responsive. Schindler added, "This has been a major problem with the mainstream media - not just that they are writing that Terri was brain dead, but how they continue to inaccurately and irresponsibly report blatant falsehoods regarding my sister's condition."
Schiavo's autopsy itself proved that, prior to her death, she was never dying, was physically healthy and would have lived a long life had she not been dehydrated over a period of two weeks. The autopsy was also unable to determine whether or not Terri was actually in a persistent vegetative state, as her estranged husband, Michael Schiavo, and his attorney claimed in their quest to have her killed.
Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri's sister, adds, "If the media took the time to research Terri's case, perhaps they would understand that she was simply a woman living with a disability, just like the 50 million persons living with a disability in our country today, and was in need of only love and compassion. The media's continuing quest to somehow justify her death is offensive to her memory and even more offensive to the tens of thousands of people who live with cognitive disabilities similar to Terri's."
"Terri was a daughter, a sister and a friend who was loved by many who feel the pain of her loss every single day. She was guilty only of having a brain injury and being dependent on others for her care. Sadly, in today's culture, this was not enough to save her from being killed," said Vitadamo. "My sister fell victim to an ever-growing and dangerous 'quality of life' standard used to decide whether one should live or die."