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Medical examiner releases Terri Schiavo autopsy report

From Mary Snow
CNN

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- More than two months after Terri Schiavo died, there are answers about what killed her but as in her life, there is a dispute in her death.

Medical examiners who performed her autopsy say she suffered a massive brain death. The examiners said her brain was roughly half the size of what would be considered normal.

"She suffered a severe brain injury. In other words, her brain suffered damage from lack of blood flow and oxygen," Dr. Jon Thogmartin, Pinellas and Pasco County medical examiner, said.

The medical examiner and his team concluded no amount of therapy would have reversed her condition.

Husband Michael Schiavo was described by his attorney as being pleased with the evidence.

He had contended that his wife was in a persistent vegetative state and that was why he wanted to remove her feeding tube and let her die.

The medical examiner had no answer for that key question of whether Schiavo actually was in a persistent vegetative state.

Schiavo's parents disputed that she was and alleged Michael Schiavo abused her.

"For years and years, the courts have found there was no abuse of Terri, no evidence of abuse and that is what the medical examiner found," Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos said Wednesday.

But Terri Schiavo's parents Bob and Mary Schindler are not satisfied.

The autopsy report did not determine why Terri Schiavo initially collapsed in 1990 and lost consciousness.

Doctors say they found no signs of abuse or trauma.

The Schindlers' attorney David Gibbs questions what he calls an unexplained gap in 1990 between the time Terri Schiavo collapsed and when her husband dialed 911.

"I think those 70 minutes are very, very troubling ... Michael Schiavo is the only person who was there," says Gibbs.

Michael Schiavo's attorney calls that claim baseless.

The medical examiner also concluded that Schiavo was totally blind.

"Her vision centers of the brain were dead," Thogmartin said.

Michael Schiavo's attorney said that's significant because it shows that Terri Schiavo could not see her mother in what became a widely watched video of the two, filmed in 2002. It had been released by the Schindlers to prove their daughter was responsive.

An attorney for the Schindlers acknowledged Schiavo was visually impaired, but did not concede she was totally blind.

As for what ultimately caused Schiavo's death, it was not starvation, but dehydration.


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