March 25, 2005

In the Shiavo Case, Even the Doctors Are Having Cerebral Issues

Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan states:

"While we at American Council on Science and Health have been determined to remain on the sidelines of the raging national debate about the fate of Terri Schiavo (this is largely a legal and ethical issue, not a scientific one), we cannot remain silent about the outrageous misrepresentation of scientific facts about this case that has been occurring in the past ten days.

"The medical reality of Ms. Schiavo's case is this: She has been in what is medically referred to as a "permanent vegetative state" for the past 15 years, ever since her heart temporarily stopped (probably due to the severe effects of an eating disorder), depriving her brain of oxygen. Brain scans indicate that her cerebral cortex ceased functioning -- probably just after she experienced cardiac arrest in 1990. Ms. Schiavo's CAT scan shows massive shrinking of the brain, and her EEG is flat. Physicians confirm that there is no electrical activity coming from her brain. While the family video repeatedly shown on television suggests otherwise, her non-functioning cortex precludes cognition, including any ability to interact or communicate with people or show any signs of awareness. Dozens of experts over the years who have examined Ms. Schiavo agree that there is no hope of her recovering -- even though her body, face and eyes (if she is given food and hydration) might continue to move for decades to come.

"Those are the harsh facts."

Some more "harsh facts" seem to indicate that Dr. Whelan might need a refresher course at the closest available medical school. The part of Dr. Whelan's statement above in bold(my bold, not the author's) simply isn't true.

EEGs--electroencephalograms--measure electrical activity on the surface of the brain only. She cannot categorically state there is no deeper brain function because of EEG results, as EEGs do not measure such.

In addition, without any electrical activity coming from any part of her brain, Terri Shaivo's body would not have a heartbeat, or know to breathe. In layman's terms, she'd be brain dead. The very fact that Terri Shaivo has been breathing without the aid of a ventilator for the past 15 years proves that she has some electrical activity in her brain, even if the amount or quality of activity is debatable.

If Dr. Whelan is going to throw around charges of misrepresentations, perhaps she should start by correcting her own.

Update: As Ed noted in the comments, Dr. Whelan is a Sc.D... a Doctor of Science. She isn't a medical doctor. he Evangelical Outpost adds that Dr. Whelan is quite a dubious character in her own right.

Note: Posted at the Blogger News Network

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 25, 2005 12:15 AM | TrackBack