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Word for Word: 15 years ago, Terri Schiavo's 'last hope'
Florida Today ^ | March 24, 2005 (Nov. 15, 1990) | HEDDY MURPHEY

Posted on 03/24/2005 2:19:40 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

To date, The St. Petersburg Times has published about 500 articles about Terri Schiavo. The first one appeared almost 15 years ago, on Nov. 15, 1990.

At the time, the city of St. Pete Beach was still called St. Petersburg Beach and Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents were still speaking to one another. Here is the story, exactly as it was published.

- MIKE WILSON, assistant managing editor/Newsfeatures

* * *

ST. PETERSBURG BEACH - Mike Schiavo vividly remembers the morning of Feb. 25. Usually a late sleeper, Schiavo awakened suddenly about 5 a.m. and started to get out of bed.

"For some strange reason that day, I was just taking the covers off, and then she hit the floor," he said.

Schiavo's 26-year-old wife, Terri, had suddenly - and as yet inexplicably - suffered a loss of potassium in her body that caused her heart to stop beating. She was rushed to the hospital.

She has been in a coma ever since.

Efforts to bring Mrs. Schiavo out of her coma have become a community crusade.

The city of St. Petersburg Beach passed a resolution Tuesday declaring Feb. 17, 1991, as Terri Schiavo Day. On that day, volunteers plan to conduct a huge beach party to raise money to help pay for an experimental operation that, according to Dr. David Baras, medical director of Bayfront Rehabilitation Center, is Mrs. Schiavo's "last hope."

"The prognosis is poor. Fair at best" without any further treatment, Baras said. "This (surgery) is brand new. It's experimental. It's sort of like our last chance."

Members of the Vina Del Mar Civic Association also have asked city officials if they can name one of the new dune walkovers in Mrs. Schiavo's honor. They hope to raise money by having people buy individual planks on the walkover to be engraved with either their own name or the name of someone they wish to honor.

The operation will be performed by Dr. Yoshio Hosobuchi of the University of California at San Francisco later this month. According to Mrs. Schiavo's family, expenses for the trip to California, operation and subsequent rehabilitation will cost at least $100,000.

Mary Schindler, Mrs. Schiavo's mother, said the family is being permitted to make an initial down payment for the procedure and pay the balance as they can.

Mrs. Schiavo is being cared for at College Harbor nursing facility. Schiavo and Mrs. Schindler said they tried to care for her at home, but because Mrs. Schiavo has a tube in her stomach and is catheterized, they found the task too much for them to handle. They visit her daily.

The fight to bring Terri out of her coma also is being fought in the legal arena. Schiavo recently filed his second lawsuit against the Prudential Insurance Co. of America. Mrs. Schiavo worked for Prudential and was insured by the company. Schiavo's first lawsuit over benefits was settled in July.

Among other things, the latest suit, filed Monday, contends that Mrs. Schiavo is entitled to long-term nursing care.

"Prudential has taken the position that family should take care of those needs after a week of training. We don't think that meets terms of the contract," said Roland Lamb, Schiavo's attorney.

Mrs. Schiavo's family is paying about $3,000 a month for her care at College Harbor, Schiavo said.

Jeff Kovalesky, director of group operations with Prudential, said Wednesday he was not aware of the latest suit and declined to comment further. He said the terms of the earlier settlement prevent both parties from discussing Mrs. Schiavo's condition or benefits publicly.

Lamb said Prudential will not help pay the cost of Mrs. Schiavo's upcoming surgery because it is experimental.

Dr. Raj Narayan, associate professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine, said he is familiar with Hosobuchi's work and confirmed the experimental nature of the proposed surgery.

"There has been very little done with it in the U.S. Most of the experience has been in Japan and Europe," he said. The procedure has been performed on 120 patients worldwide, he said. Thirty percent showed some improvement, he said, adding that the operation is considered risky.

Narayan, chairman of the joint section on neurotrauma for the American Association of Neurological Surgery, said Hosobuchi is "a well-known and well-respected figure in the field."

Editor's note: A later article reported that Schiavo had surgery to implant a "brain stimulator."

That story reported: "Mrs. Schiavo is slowly emerging from the coma at the Mediplex Medical Center, a neurological care center in Bradenton, (Michael Schiavo) said. She will undergo at least a year of speech, occupational and physical therapy."

- Word for Word is an occasional feature excerpting passages of interest from books, magazines, Web sites and other sources. The text may be edited for space but the original spelling, grammar and punctuation are unchanged.

[Last modified March 23, 2005, 14:15:38]

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: cary; florida; jebbush; life; schiavo; terri; terrischiavo; terryschiavo
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1 posted on 03/24/2005 2:19:41 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Hullo, Cincy... here's what I've got on this sad subject:


Think Terry's Fight does not affect, or apply, to you?
Think again.
Got a recessive gene? Old parent or spouse? Handicapped child?
At what point do they become "a useless Eater"-- like Terry?
All you geezers that moved to Florida for low taxes & mild weather? You're next...
Just as the Pope predicted, we have become a Cult of Death--
 Time for Federal Marshals and agents in black shiny FBI shoes.

To access the entire database of links we have ( some going back to 2003 ), click these:

2 posted on 03/24/2005 2:24:04 AM PST by backhoe (-30-)
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To: backhoe

Hi backhoe. Thanks for all your work.


Memories diverge on what Terri wanted

Five years ago, a judge heard from those who said she wouldn't want to be on life support, and those who said she would want to fight.
By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
Published March 24, 2005

The funeral was over, and the Schiavo family had gathered at the Buck Hotel in Langhorne, Pa., for lunch.

Everyone sat around the table, lamenting how their grandmother had spent her last days. Doctors had kept her alive on a machine, against her wishes. On Scott Schiavo's left was his sister-in-law, Terri. Years later, he testified what the young, vibrant woman said to him that day in 1988:

"If I ever go like that, just let me go," he recalled Terri saying. "Don't leave me there. I don't want to be kept alive on a machine."

Those words - more than anything else - explain how Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer five years ago came to rule on the simple but perplexing question at the heart of the Terri Schiavo case: What would she have wanted?

In end-of-life cases, Florida law says a judge must follow the person's last wishes, if they can be established. If a judge finds "clear and convincing" evidence that a person would not want to be kept alive, the judge can order treatment stopped.

The best evidence of a person's wishes is a will or a written document. But when no document exists, as in the Schiavo case, judges must look for other clues, like the recollections of friends and relatives.

When Greer came to grapple with this question in the Schiavo case in 2000, he heard from five people who said they knew what Terri wanted. Two supported Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler. On the other side were Terri's brother-in-law Scott, her sister-in-law and friend Joan Schiavo, and her husband.

Amid the tumult of this week, what was said in the quiet of Greer's courtroom five years ago has been drowned out.

* * *

On the Monday in January 2000 when the Schiavo case went to trial, the Schindlers' lawyer remembers being surprised to see a St. Petersburg Times reporter in court.

What are you doing here, Patricia Campbell asked. She had no anticipation that the case would make the front page.

Back then, Campbell was working alone, without an assistant to help. On the other side was Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos, who had handled the seminal right-to-die case of Estelle Browning, which went to the Florida Supreme Court in 1990.

Campbell said in an interview Wednesday that she took the case out of sympathy for the Schindlers. She said about 20 attorneys had turned down the couple, who had little money.

Campbell, who now has a prestigious AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell lawyer peer review system, had never handled a right-to-die case. She did not have money to find witnesses, she said. Indeed, Campbell did not take depositions from Joan and Scott Schiavo before the trial. Normally, that would be a basic step for a lawyer preparing for trial.

Campbell presented just two witnesses to address the claim that Terri would not want her feeding tube removed.

The first was Terri's mother.

Mrs. Schindler said Terri had remarked about the high-profile case of Karen Ann Quinlan, whose parents persuaded the New Jersey Supreme Court to turn her ventilator off in 1976.

The case had been on TV in the late 1970s, when they discussed it. She quoted Terri as saying: "Just leave her alone. Leave her. If they take her off, she might die. Just leave her alone, and she will die whenever."

Then, Campbell asked two critical questions about Terri's wishes.

"Did Terri tell you what she would want done if she were on a ventilator?"

Mrs. Schindler: "No."

"If she were on a feeding tube?"


A friend from Terri's teenage years, Diane Meyer, also testified that Terri had commented on the Quinlan case.

"One of the things (Terri) said is, how did they know (Quinlan) would want this," Meyer said.

Felos undercut Meyer's testimony by casting doubt on how old Terri was when she made the comments. Regardless of the comments, Felos argued Terri changed her mind later, and made statements as a married woman that revealed her true intent.

Felos put three witnesses on the stand. The first was Michael Schiavo.

During a train trip, Michael testified the couple talked about her sick grandmother. Terri said if she fell ill, she would not want to burden relatives. "If I ever have to be a burden to anybody, I don't want to live like that," she said, according to her husband.

Another time, they were watching a TV show about people on feeding tubes. Terri said she would never want to be like that, Michael testified.

Campbell attacked Michael, suggesting he had a financial motive to lie. If Terri died, he would inherit her estate and what was left of her $700,000 share of the malpractice settlement. Campbell noted Michael had become romantically involved with other women since Terri's collapse.

But Greer ultimately believed Michael's testimony, in part because it matched what Scott and Joan Schiavo said. Campbell did not even dispute their testimony, Greer wrote in his opinion.

Joan was married to William Schiavo Jr., Michael's older brother, and was one of Terri's close friends. Joan testified they talked about the right-to-die issue repeatedly, as many as 12 times, because a friend had to remove her baby from a feeding tube.

Another time, a movie on TV about a man trapped in a coma prompted the conversation.

Terri said, "If that ever happened to one of us, in our lifetime, we would not want to go through that," Joan testified. "That we would want it stated in our will we would want the tubes and everything taken out."

Fifteen days later, Greer ruled.

Times staff writer Kelley Benham contributed to this report.

[Last modified March 24, 2005, 01:21:06]

3 posted on 03/24/2005 2:25:10 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: backhoe
Think Terri's fight does not affect or apply to you:

Just wait till the young working people of the country have to pay a 20% fica tax to support your retirement benefits at their current levels.
4 posted on 03/24/2005 2:27:31 AM PST by zencycler
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To: backhoe

Thanks for the links.

5 posted on 03/24/2005 2:29:54 AM PST by cvq3842
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

It's fascinating that they had all these specific on point conversations with Terri about what she wanted that they didn't recall for over 7 years after she fell into this condition.

6 posted on 03/24/2005 2:32:29 AM PST by CalRepublican
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To: backhoe
For those of you who think Terri's figtht won't affect you.

Thought you might be interested in the perspective of this case from overseas where I live.

The entire world is watching this entire drama unfold right before their eyes and many are absolutely horrified and chilled beyond belief at what they see.

When a great nation such as ours starts to dehumanize individuals in the way that Terri is being dehumanized in an organized effort to rationalize the killing off of those members of our society who are sick, disabled, no longer productive, "have worthless lives or lives not worth living" or "wish to die".

It is a sad day a very dark day in history.

The World's Superpower and Champion of Human Rights around the globe is starving and dehydrating a disabled woman to death and underage children who bring her water are being handcuffed and arrested.

Does that sum it up? Did I miss anything?

If China decides to put a bullet in the brain of all their retarded school children tomorrow, what can we say or do?

Next time we want to whine because Libya or Egypt is on the United Nations human rights council we better learn to bite our lip.

There is your perspective from overseas.

An American Expat in Southeast Asia

7 posted on 03/24/2005 2:35:04 AM PST by expatguy (
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To: CalRepublican

Yes, not until he had "moved on."

8 posted on 03/24/2005 2:35:57 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: expatguy

Excellent points.

9 posted on 03/24/2005 2:36:39 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: zencycler

There won't be a problem with Social Security because there's going to be a lot less people to worry about paying it to should Florida's laws be upheld as they are to the end result of Terri's death.

One of the people on the side of Death believes people like Terri should not have Constitutional Rights.

What are they?

The right to due process - including staying alive


Being beaten and having no right to get the assaulter put away

Being raped and told sorry, we cannot/do not have to protect you because you're not a person

Having your tubes tied if you're not up to their standards

Being robbed and laughed at and snickered at by the police because you don't 'look' right or 'walk' right

These are rights/freedoms/PROTECTIOS that people died for so today's American's could have them

And they CAN be taken away - just at the snap of a finger

If judges can think Terri should be killed out of hand, what's to stop them from killing you, your child or someone else you love,

All on heresay,

All without proof you've even done a criminal act

All because you simply EXIST.

Oh, Terri matters alright.

10 posted on 03/24/2005 2:37:37 AM PST by freecopper01 (" The amount of people who are making fun of a blueprint for genocide is an alarming thing.")
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

One of the interesting things about this issue is how dynamic it is. The MSM wants to portray it as "us versus them, right vs. left, black vs. white"-- but it's not that cut & dried.

A vest-pocket glimpse of my wife of 20 years is here:

...and minor political differences aside, we generally see eye-to-eye on things. Always been on the side of "keep me alive if I can still enjoy life at some level, otherwise, let me go."

Now? She wants me to fight to keep her alive, regardless. And as her Avatar, I would do this. Me, I'd rather see what's on the Other Side...

11 posted on 03/24/2005 2:38:00 AM PST by backhoe (-30-)
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To: freecopper01


12 posted on 03/24/2005 2:38:32 AM PST by freecopper01 (" The amount of people who are making fun of a blueprint for genocide is an alarming thing.")
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To: backhoe

We'll all be checking out soon enough.

It's our obligation to make our wishes known - in writing.

13 posted on 03/24/2005 2:41:06 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: backhoe

This goes into my permanent bookmarks. VERY FEW posts earn that distinction.

14 posted on 03/24/2005 2:44:50 AM PST by Lexinom (You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
We'll all be checking out soon enough.

That's one of the things about the Pro-Death side that astounds me... the way I put it to people is, "What's the rush? Terri can always die later."

And you're right about getting things down in writing, although there's still no substitute for a trustworthy spouse who is willing to fight for you when you can't do it.

15 posted on 03/24/2005 2:47:10 AM PST by backhoe (-30-)
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To: Lexinom
This goes into my permanent bookmarks. VERY FEW posts earn that distinction.

Thank you very kindly.

16 posted on 03/24/2005 2:48:07 AM PST by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trackball into the Sunset...)
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To: backhoe

That's a good idea. When in doubt, hand out copies to trusted friends and family.

17 posted on 03/24/2005 2:49:11 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Peach

Here's the original article about the brain stimulator.

18 posted on 03/24/2005 3:13:39 AM PST by dawn53
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

It says the Schindlers don't have many assets. I thought they were going to assume total responsibility for Terri's care???

19 posted on 03/24/2005 3:19:21 AM PST by tkathy (Tyranny breeds terrorism. Freedom breeds peace.)
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To: tkathy

You suggest her right to live depends on her parents' ability to pay?

I suggest they could earn a lot from fund raisers and such.

20 posted on 03/24/2005 3:23:42 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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