Sunday, March 20, 2005

Terri Schiavo's painful death

Click here to see what our strategy should be in stopping Terri's slow starvation over the next two weeks. Yesterday, I noticed that Associated Press published a description of what Terri is in store for unless Congress or Florida intervenes to stop this murder:

Here is the general process of death for patients whose food and hydration tubes are withdrawn.

_Day One: The percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy tube, which is placed through the skin and into the stomach, is removed in a simple surgical procedure. Patients who do not have mental cognition to have a sense of thirst or hunger will not be uncomfortable.

_ Days Three to Four: Urine output decreases and patients begin to lose normal body secretions. The mouth begins to look dry and the eyes appear sunken. Patients will look thinner because the body tissues have lost fluid. Their heart rate gradually goes up and their blood pressure goes down. In some patients, dehydration releases endorphins in the brain that create a state of euphoria.

_ Days Five to 10: People who are alert have a marked decrease in their alertness. Respiration becomes irregular with periods of very fast and then very slow breathing. Some patients will become restless while others will be less active. For patients in a persistent vegetative state, there may be no discernible change in their movements.

_ Days 10 to Death: Patients do not appear to respond to their environment at all and may appear to be in a coma. Length of death process is determined by how well-nourished patient was and how much body fat and fluid they had when procedure began. May be outward signs of dehydration, like extremely dry skin. Kidney function declines and toxins begin accumulating in the body. Toxins cause respiratory muscles to fail. Multiple organ systems begin to fail from lack of nutrition.

Source: LifePath Hospice.

I think it is fair to say that AP is being somewhat euphemistic.
Sue Bob provides more information about this process:
In my role as attorney for health providers, I have heard stories about patients whose feeding tubes--and suctioning tubes--have been removed before they were so near death as to be insensible. The nurses and other staff who have talked to me about this have relayed virtual horror stories.

Death by starvation and dehydration is not painless unless one is near death BECAUSE OF OTHER CONDITIONS.

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