Schindler Family Statement on Medical Examiner's Report
For Immediate Release – 06-16-05 2 PM (EST)
Statement of the Schindler Family re: the IME’s report
Minneapolis, MN and Seminole, FL – As you are aware; the Pinellas County IME
has released his report regarding Terri. We would like to thank the IME for
his time and effort in making this report. We are not challenging the
findings in his report, but we would like to make a few comments publicly.
We do not intend to take questions afterwards.
First, the IME’s report confirms Terri’s physical condition and disability.
We all knew Terri was seriously brain-injured before the IME report. This is
nothing new. The IME’s report also confirms that TERRI WAS NOT TERMINAL.
THAT TERRI HAD NO LIVING WILL, THAT TERRI HAD A STRONG HEART, and THAT TERRI
WAS BRUTALLY DEHYDRATED TO DEATH.
Second, our family would encourage the media to remember that this case was
allegedly about “Terri’s choice.” There is absolutely no evidence that Terri
wanted to die of dehydration, or that she believed that that the level of
one’s disability gives anyone the moral and legal right to end another’s
Third, the IME said clearly that dehydration, not her brain injury, was the
cause of her death. Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes The moral
shame of what happened is not erased because of Terri’s level of disability.
No one would say that “blind people” or “brain-injured” people should be put
to death. That would be an irresponsible and heartless position to take.
Tragically, that is what happened to Terri. As a society, it seems that we
have lost our compassion for the disabled.
We asked our attorney, Mr. Gibbs, to meet with the IME prior to the press
conference, to attend the IME’s press conference, and to speak to the media
for our family afterward. In our opinion, some of the significant items from
the IME’s report are as follows:
* Terri had a strong heart according to the IME. In addition to her strong
heart, Terri also demonstrated a very strong will to live.
* Terri was not terminal. The IME said with proper care Terri would have
lived at least another 10 years even in her disabled condition. Terri’s case
was NOT an end-of-life case. Terri’s case was about ending a disabled
* Terri was brain-injured. This does NOT mean that she was brain-dead. Many
seem to not understand this absolutely critical distinction.
* The IME essentially ruled out bulimia and heart attack as causes for
Terri’s condition. In one sense the IME’s report created as many questions
as it may have answered. The major question for our family that now remains
is what happened? A troubling 70-minute gap appears in the timeline on the
day Terri collapsed in 1990:
* According to Michael Schiavo, Terri collapsed at 4:30 AM. Mr. Schiavo said
this on Larry King Live and he also re-confirmed it to the IME during his
* 911 was called at 5:40 AM. Emergency services arrived at 5:52 AM.
* Both Bobby Schindler Jr. and the original police report gave similar
descriptions as to Terri’s state – laying face first, on the floor, hands
crossed and up high against her chest, making gurgling noises.
* Our family doesn’t understand what led to Terri’s collapse. Our family
doesn’t understand why this major discrepancy in time is not fully
understood. When a person is without blood and oxygen to their brain, 70
minutes is a terribly long time when each second counts.
* With the IME effectively ruling out bulimia, the underlying basis of the
malpractice case appears to now be disproved. Our family would encourage
Michael Schiavo to do the right thing and return the funds that were paid by
the innocent doctors who were sued for Terri’s collapse. In addition to
returning the funds to the doctors who were sued, we would also ask Michael
to bring closure to Terri’s death for our family by allowing us to give her
a proper Christian burial as required by our faith. To this day, we have no
idea where Terri’s ashes are. That is particularly hard on our mother.
* The IME’s report stated that Terri’s inability to swallow was the result
of muscle atrophy. Terry was denied therapy for 12 years, and muscles
atrophy when they are not used. We will never know if therapy would have
* The IME clearly stated that PVS is a clinical diagnosis made on a living
patient. That is something an IME cannot do by looking at a corpse.
* Dr. William Cheshire, a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic, agreed with our
family’s perception that Terri was awake, aware, and at least minimally
* We knew that Terri was visually impaired, but we did not know to what
extent. Our attorneys and other witnesses clearly saw Terri recognize her
mother and father and treat them differently. According to the IME’s report,
it appears that after her severe dehydration, Terri was blind at the moment
of her death.
* The IME stated that no conclusive medical studies have been done on what a
MCS brain should look like as opposed to a PVS brain in an autopsy.
* According to the IME, Terri was given morphine for pain as she died. This
seems contradictory that if Terri could feel no pain, as some would say, why
would these drugs be necessary? In our opinion, the treating health care
officials understood that Terri felt pain.
I would like to restate a few words from our family’s statement to Terri
that we issued on March 31, 2005, the date of Terri’s death:
“Our prayer at this time is that our Nation will remember the plight of
persons with disabilities and commit within our hearts to defend their lives
and their dignity for many generations to come.”
In closing, the love, prayers, and concern for our family from so many
around the nation are deeply appreciated. God has sustained us through these
most difficult days, and we do hope that no other family ever has to live
though the nightmare that our family and Terri endured. No mother and father
should have to watch their child that they love more than life itself, be
dehydrated and starved before their eyes. Civilized societies should not
tolerate such barbaric acts.
Our family stands by its strong belief that Terri was not in PVS, and we
appreciate the many noted neurologists, including Dr. Cheshire who saw Terri
just weeks before she died, who agree with our position. We also thank the
brave men and women in public office in Florida and Washington, D.C. who
nobly stood on the side of life regardless of one’s disability. While their
valiant efforts were not able to ultimately save Terri, our family is
forever grateful to them for their compassion and for their conviction to do
the right thing.