Editor's Comment: 

In response to misinformation in a article published by the prestigious British Medical Journal, (BMJ) President Bush and Congress intervene in "right to die" case by Fred Charatan,  I titled my letter "The fact is Terri is so healthy the only way to end her life is to refuse her food and water." 

Charatan writes  she was "on a life support machine since a cardiac arrest 15 years ago. . ."    he also misinforms the reader that this is a "right -to-die" case.  However after reading the response to Charatan's article from Raymond C Seidler, GP, in comparison Charatan's article is benign. 

Seidler sees Schiavo as a debt  "She was not receiving food through her PEG tube but rather an expensive, scientifically produced replacement for food, costing a great deal."  Regardless of cost, which by the way, is only slightly more than hospital food, this should never be part of the discussion.  However for the sake of information,  I asked Nancy Ward, a registered nurse about the cost of Terri's food. 

Ward says her food would be bought by the case.  "They come in 8 oz cans, 24 to a case, and the hospice would have probably used 3-6 cans per day.  That would make it approximately $50. a case," remarked Ward.

Ward added, "This is a good guesstimate.  What a health facility has is probably cheaper, as they can buy in bulk. The tubing and bags come 30 in a case for about $140." If one wants to add the cost of syringes used for flushing, Karen reports she got hers at a dollar store, when her cat was sick. 

Seidler stance is clearly pro-euthanasia which is illegal in America, but not in the Netherlands where morphine is the drug of choice for overdose. Says Seidler, "Surely effective doses of morphine would have brought this sorry saga to a more hasty end." Dr Seidler had no problem uttering his disappointment "Alas, the doctors treating Terri will be probably scrutinised intensively and no opioids will be allowed."

Dr Seidler is wrong again when he says Terri is brain dead, even the physicians who favored the removal of her tube agree she is definitely not brain dead, brain damaged yes.  Finally, he adds this chilling nihilistic remark "As one senior nurse put it "We treat them too well. They go on and on for years causing untold suffering for their families."'  Dr Seidler's attitude reminds me of Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos, who is every bit a morally recusant as Seidler.  "Be careful who you pick to be your primary care physician," warns Eckstein.   Source Re: Fact is, Terri is so healthy the only way to end her life is to refuse her food and water  Rapid Responses, Raymond C Seidler bmj.com, 26 Mar 2005 

The BMJ's article "President Bush and Congress intervene in "right to die" case" solicited a number of responses, most spoke compassionately and offer a good read.  The URL for the other RAPID RESPONSES (letters)  http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/330/7493/687-a#101447



Fact is, Terri is so healthy the only way to end her life is to refuse her food and water 25 March 2005
Next Rapid Response Top
Cheryl Eckstein,
CEO Compassionate Healthcare Network
11563 Bailey Cres., Surrey BC Canada v3v2v4

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Re: Fact is, Terri is so healthy the only way to end her life is to refuse her food and water


As a frequent reader of BMJ and a researcher, I am most disappointed in Fred Charatan's article on Terri Schiavo.

First of, he quotes this as a "right to die case."

Terri is not a right to die "case." Terri is a victim in the most concentrated effort to make her die that I have ever heard of. The fact is Terri is so healthy that the only way to end her life now is as they have done, by removing her feeding tube, thus refusing her food and water.

She was not "on life support machine", she was simply tube fed, something that thousands of people have in them - and thousands are not terminally ill - Terri is not terminally ill. But she has been kept in a Hospice! A hospice is where the dying live out their final days. It is not a rehab. Terri needs rehab! Terri needs sunshine and fresh air. Terri needs food and water. Terri needs mercy.

Have you ever heard one doctor say to another "Let's meet for some articial intervention." No, they meet for lunch to eat real food. There is nothing articial about the food Terri had been receiving. Without food and water we all die.

Forcing Terri to go without is not a right to die case, it is euthanasia. Please report the facts. We deserve nothing less than the truth in reporting.

Cheryl Eckstein is the founder and president of the Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) www.chninternational.com

Competing interests: Terri Schiavo is not a right to die case.


Source http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/330/7493/687-a#101447

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