Seventeen neurologists, speech and swallowing therapists and so forth were solicited by supporters of Terri Schiavo's parents to file affidavits (no longer accessible unfortunately) in her case. This exercise was a public relations stunt designed to cast doubt on the findings of court appointed neurologists who determined that there was no chance she could recover.
I sent a query to as many of the neurologists whose emails I could find, "to ask you to please view the CT scan of Ms. Schiavo's brain at the University of Miami's website? In your experience, what prognosis would you generally give a person with such a CT scan? How likely is it that he or she would be aware?"
So far, I have gotten three responses. I found as I reviewed their affidavits, that the solicited neurologists were largely suggesting further testing that could confirm or disconfirm the findings of earlier neurologists who had examined her. They were NOT saying that for sure Schiavo is merely disabled and retains some consciousness. It is pretty clear that further testing would not actually help resolve how Ms. Schiavo would want her treatment to go.
My thanks to the doctors for their candid responses. They speak for themselves below:
FROM DR. PHIL KENNEDY
Dear Mr. Bailey:
The only question I had regarding the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state was how much had been done to see if she was responsive. The way we do that is with functional MRI. We have experience with these techniques. I fully understand that any neurologist looking at the CT scan of her brain on the website would obviously conclude that here is such atrophy that she is unlikely to have any cognitive function. I would agree with this conclusion, but, and there is always a 'but', functional MRI was not attempted as far as I know. Do you know if it was tried? Looking only at that CT scan, I would give a very dismal prognosis. I would predict no cognitive function. Again, a 'but': There is only one image on the website. Other cuts might show less atrophy. Let me emphasize, I would have tried to perform a functional MRI.
I hope this answers your questions. You may quote me if you wish. It would be good to check and see if functional MRI was performed or not.
Phil Kennedy, MD, PhD
FROM DR. TERMAN:
I don't believe in viewing an old, edited video tape, as there is no substitute for direct observation at the bedside. I am not a neurologist but a psychiatrist. (The two specialties have the same board.)
My affidavit presents a protocol to determine the ability of patients to make decisions, especially medical decisions, even if they can only say "Yes" or "No." You can see the excerpt of the story from my forthcoming book in the affidavit—"A Time To Be Sure." My new website should be up in a few days—TheBestWayToSayGoodbye.com or TheBestGoodbye.com. My old website does have a link to an excerpt of the book: 64peace.com.
I am willing to discuss any of this further with you: (phone number removed)
March 23, 2005
FROM DR. RICHARD A. NEUBAUER
Dear Dr. Bailey,
Thank you very much for your letter and the CT scan. My involvement in the Schiavo case, which being an affidavit in the case, is that of the recoverable brain. Since the early 90's we have been doing functional brain imaging SPECT before and after hyperbaric oxygenation. In 1990, in Lancet, I published an article showing that the dormant idling neurons may exist for up to 14 years and still be recovered with hyperbaric oxygenation.
We operate the largest hyperbaric neurologic center in the country treating patients from all over the world. I have had many patients very similar to Shiavo. To totally withhold fluids and starvation is inhumane. My purpose would have been to have her have a SPECT scan, next hyperbaric treatments, and then repeat the SPECT scan to see if there are any viable dormant idling neurons that may potentially be reactivated.
I have written multiple articles regarding the recoverable brain and have lectured around the world on it.
If you are ever in the Fort Lauderdale area we would be honored to have you visit our center.
Thank you very much for your interest.
Richard A. Neubauer, M.D.