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Terri Schiavo's husband allows her family to visit

An ambulance returned Terri Schiavo to hospice care in Pinellas Park, Florida on Wednesday evening.
An ambulance returned Terri Schiavo to hospice care in Florida on Wednesday evening.

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The brain-damaged Florida woman at the center of a right-to-die dispute between her husband and her parents had her feeding tube reinserted. CNN's Susan Candiotti reports. (October 23)
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Should Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have ordered a comatose woman to be kept alive?
Terri Schiavo
Bob Schindler
Jeb Bush

PINELLAS PARK, Florida (CNN) -- A brain-damaged woman at the center of a Florida right-to-die controversy had her feeding tube reinserted Wednesday, a day after the governor ordered her feedings be renewed.

But even the reinsertion of the feeding tube came with a twist: Terri Schiavo's parents -- who have fought mightily to keep her alive -- were not informed of the news. When they arrived at the hospital to see their daughter, they were informed she had been moved.

"I feel like we're on a wild goose chase to find Terri," her brother, Bob Schindler Jr., told CNN. "They told me she was no longer here."

Unbeknownst to the family at that time, Terri was en route back to the hospice in Pinellas Park where she had been staying in recent years.

George Felos -- an attorney for Terri's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo -- told CNN the feeding tube was reinserted in Terri and that doctors felt she had stabilized enough for the move back to the hospice. He said her feedings have resumed.

Soon after that conversation, Terri arrived at the hospice in an ambulance, with a large police escort.

The parents and Michael Schiavo have been at the center of a lengthy and contentious battle over whether Terri should be kept alive indefinitely in a persistent vegetative state with the feeding tube, as the parents want, or allowed to die, as her husband wants.

A court ruled that the tube could be removed last week, but the state Legislature quickly passed a law giving the governor the right to intervene Tuesday.

Late Wednesday, Patricia Anderson, the attorney for Schiavo's parents, confirmed that the family had been able to visit Terri.

"I spoke with Terri -- she focused on my face, she responded," Anderson said. "She's weak, but she's also at the same time, got that incredible survival instinct."

Bob Schindler described his daughter as looking "very, very tired."

"She looked to me like someone ... who has the flu or something, a virus," he said. "She was laying there like 'don't bother me.'"

In another development Wednesday, David Demeres, the chief judge of Pinellas County Circuit Court, ordered lawyers for both sides to agree within five days on an independent guardian for Terri, as required under the law signed by the governor.

The new guardian would become Terri Schiavo's advocate in legal proceedings, but Michael Schiavo would remain the decision-maker.

If an agreement cannot be reached, Demeres said, he will appoint Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor of health and law at Stetson University, as the guardian. Wolfson also works for the College of Public Health at Florida State University and the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.

The order signed by Bush Tuesday stated that a "guardian ad litem" should be appointed to the case.

A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of one or more children in a court action that may affect them. "Ad litem" is Latin for "for this litigation."

Schiavo's lawyer: New law is unconstitutional

Felos said the law allowing Bush to order her feeding tube reinserted is unconstitutional.

A circuit court judge in Pinellas County Tuesday rejected a request for an emergency injunction filed by Michael Schiavo, which would have prevented the re-feeding of his wife, but the judge did give attorneys five days to file paperwork for a permanent injunction.

"Each of us -- and the Florida Supreme Court has said this -- has a right to control our own body," said Felos. "We have a fundamental right to make our own medical treatment choices, and the state doesn't have a right to override our wishes."

Felos also said Terri Schiavo cannot recover, despite her family's assertions.

"If you look at a brain scan of Terri, where her cerebral cortex used to be is a black hole filled with spinal fluid," he said. "There is simply no hope of recovery for Terri."

But Bob Schindler insisted Wednesday his daughter is "alert, active, a live human being" and said videotapes that showed her condition moved Bush to act on her behalf.

Terri Schiavo
Terri Schiavo

"We have close to 15 doctors who are on record with the courts saying she can improve and will improve," Schindler said.

But Felos said Bush's order -- coming almost a week after the feeding tube was first removed -- may have harmed Schiavo.

"Terri was almost a week into her death process," Felos said. "The doctors have said that introducing hydration and nutrition artificially, she may have already suffered massive organ failure and kidney damage. What this may have done is just prolonged her death process."

Doctors said last week Schiavo would have died within two weeks without the feeding tube.

Father: 'She's never had a chance'

Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when she collapsed from heart failure. She recovered from the heart attack, but oxygen was cut off to her brain, leaving her in what doctors call a "persistent vegetative state." She is responsive to stimuli, doctors have said, but has no significant brain function and cannot feed herself.

In a statement issued after he signed the bill and ordered restoration of the feeding tube, Bush said he was moved by the case.

"Like the tens of thousands of Floridians who have raised their voices in support of Terri Schiavo's right to live, I have been deeply moved by these tragic circumstances," Bush's statement read. "My thoughts and prayers remain with Terri and those who love her."

Felos said when a court ruled that her feeding tube could be removed it was on the basis of Terri Schiavo's own wishes not to be kept alive by artificial means. He said Terri Schiavo told her husband, "I never want to be kept alive artificially."

But Bob Schindler told CNN that he has affidavits from doctors saying she can recover with therapy.

"We've been fighting for the right thing, which is to give her a chance," Schindler said. "She's never had a chance, and that's the most despicable part of this. She was literally shelved. She has not been out of this room over here in the hospice for three years."

The parents have accused Michael Schiavo of being motivated by selfish reasons. Schiavo has one child with his long-time girlfriend. He won $1.2 million in a malpractice case against his wife's gynecologist and another $250,000 in a settlement with her general practitioner.

Most of that money was to go toward her treatment. In addition, he received $300,000 for pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

The husband has declined to comment on whether there is an outstanding life insurance policy on his wife.

CNN correspondent John Zarrella contributed to this report.

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