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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo Dead at the age of 41

The time now is 9:57 am my time and there has just been a break in by ABC news that Terri Schiavo has just died minutes ago. Charlie Gibson also said that they would be investigating who was with her when she passed away as the husband had been keeping the parents out of the hospice. The parents were not allowed in and that the parents were just entering the hospice now. More news to come on ABC later today.

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In my inbox is an email from ABC breaking news that she has died:
ABC News: story here
Terri Schiavo has died, 13 days after a feeding tube was removed, a spiritual adviser to her parents said. A lengthy legal battle over life-sustaining procedures for the brain-damaged woman pitted her parents against her husband.

From Chicago Tribune
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo died today, ending an agonizing 15-year odyssey that divided a family and a nation over her right to die. She was 41.

Schiavo took her last breath 13 days after her life-sustaining tube was removed by a court order.

The announcement was made by George Felos, attorney for Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo.

Experts said her story was a lesson for countless Americans who never discussed, much less wrote down, what they would want if they were suddenly thrust into her tragic situation.

"Thanks to Terri, people who have never had that conversation are having it right now," said Kenneth Goodman, a medical ethicist at the University of Miami. "That is her legacy."

Born in Philadelphia on Dec. 3, 1963, Theresa Marie was the first child of Bob and Mary Schindler, devout Catholics who named her for Saint Theresa of Avila, the Carmelite mystic who, in an ironic parallel, reawakened religious fervor in her native Spain.

Shy and grossly overweight, Terri, as everybody called her, grew up in suburban Philadelphia, attending Catholic schools and Mass every week. She took notice of boys, but they didn't notice her, leaving her to rearrange the stuffed animals on her bed and dream of becoming a veterinarian.

By the time she graduated high school and entered Bucks County Community College in 1982, Terri had shed more than 100 of the 250 pounds on her 5-foot, 4-inch frame. Sitting in psychology class one day, she caught the eye -- or ear -- of a big, blond guy who was a year older and a foot taller. His name was Michael Schiavo.

"He heard her laughing and he looked over," recalled Brian Schiavo, one of Michael Schiavo's four brothers. "He was enthralled. It was kind of a love-at-first-sight thing. My brother got up the guts and invited her to a family function."

In the beginning, the Schiavos and Schindlers were close and friendly, so close the newlyweds lived in the basement of her parents' four-bedroom colonial for two years. When the couple packed up and moved to Florida in 1986, they lived in the Schindlers' Gulf coast condo, paying rent when they could.

An average student, Terri dropped college and her aspiration of being a vet, and took a job as a clerk with Prudential Life Insurance Co. Her husband worked as the food and beverage manager at a local restaurant.

About three years later, the couple was desperate to have a child and sought the services of a fertility expert. By this time, Terri's weight had dropped to 110 pounds. She was stunning and proud of it. She wore bikinis and gloried in her Florida tan, never divulging what might have been her secret: She may have been bulimic.

Then, in the early morning hours of Feb. 25, 1990, Terri suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed in the hallway of her St. Petersburg apartment. Doctors would later suspect a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. Her husband frantically called her father, then 911, but by the time paramedics resuscitated her, it was too late.

Without oxygen for too long, her brain was severely damaged.

For three years, Michael Schiavo kept vigil at her side, seeking aggressive rehabilitative therapy. He took her to California for experimental surgery, admitted her to a brain injury center in Bradenton and hired an aide to take her to parks, to museums, to the beauty shop -- anything to stimulate her. Later, he even became a critical care nurse so he could tend to her many needs.

But nothing drew Terri out of her cocoon and, by 1994, her husband accepted her doctors' prognosis. Her cerebral cortex was all but gone. She could not think, feel, reason or communicate and never would again. He decided it was time to let her go,

In 1998, he asked Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer to end his wife's artificial feedings and, over the objections of her parents, Greer agreed in 2000 that her husband had presented "clear and convincing evidence" she would not choose to subsist in a void, unaware of her environment, always dependent on others for her most basic needs.

She never said so in the unequivocal terms of a written living will, but her husband, his brother and his sister-in-law recalled casual conversations in which they said she made those wishes clear.

But her parents continued to fight those rulings for years, culiminating in the extraordinary actions of the Congress and president approving a law that would move her case to federal courts.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

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