Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Michael Schiavo Wants Autopsy Performed

Michael Schiavo has stated through his attorney George Felos that he wants an autopsy conducted on Terri Schiavo once she dies, ostensibly to prove the seriousness of her brain damage, but also to answer critics who believe that the planned cremation of her remains would conceal evidence of abuse. Terri's parents also support doing an autopsy. From MSNBC:
“We didn’t think it was appropriate to talk about an autopsy prior to Mrs. Schiavo’s death,” Felos told reporters Monday, "but because claims have been made by, I guess, opponents of carrying out her wishes that there was some motive behind the cremation of Mrs. Schiavo we felt it was necessary to make that announcement today.”
It's unclear why it was necessary to make the announcement prior to her death.

It's also unclear whether an autopsy will definitively answer questions about her cognitive state. This paper by Dr. Eugene F. Diamond shows that Michael Schiavo may consider an autopsy a low risk way to silence critics [emphasis added]:
Evidence for lack of awareness may be established by: 1. Motor responses to stimuli, 2. Cortical glucose consumption, 3. Anatomical evidence of lesions so profound that awareness would not be retained. We should remember that when Karen Quinlan died, her autopsy showed that most of her cerebral mantle was intact.
If the autopsy shows major lesions, Schiavo can use it as evidence of PVS, if no major abnormalities exist, PVS is still not ruled out.