Story: More On Her Life and Struggle
By Terri's Brother, Bobby Schindler
Friends, as you read this story please do my family a favor and not just see the words written on these pages -- but try to feel them.
The goal of this story is for others to see Terri as someone more than a picture in the newspaper or a face on the news.
We, as a family, are fighting against her husband in an attempt to prevent the removal of her feeding tube.
To my parents, my younger sister, our friends and even to many she never knew, Terri is LIFE and in this process we have to be her voice.
Imagine a laughter that could fill a room and make you feel as though there is nowhere else you would rather be.
Imagine a hug so genuine that it could bring you tears.
Imagine the gift of a smile that would brighten the gloomiest of days.
Imagine being able to entrust your deepest secrets to someone and feeling secure that the secret would be kept forever.
Imagine someone who would cry for hours when faced with the knowledge that an animal had been harmed or killed.
Imagine someone who would drive thirty minutes out of her way up to five times a week to visit a sick grandmother.
Imagine someone who would forgo her wants and wishes for just knowing that doing something different would provide someone else with five minutes of happiness.
Imagine a friend who said I love you a thousand times – not with words – but with the portrayal of respect, sincerity, and compassion.
Imagine someone who would seek and find the good in even the worst of situation and make others question what it was that they were worried about in the first place.
Imagine someone who looked at life as a gift and tried to live everyday to it's fullest.
Imagine someone who would except you unconditionally with the grace of love and the lack of judgment.
If you can imagine these things, through your imagination you have met Terri Schiavo.
Unfortunately, this is Terri as we once knew her.
On February 25, 1990, my sister, a beautiful young woman with a life of challenges and new experiences ahead of her collapsed on her hallway floor and experienced cardiac arrest which deprived oxygen to her brain for up to five minutes.
This has caused her to enter the state in which she has remained for the past twelve years.
Unbeknownst to my family, this tragedy was only the beginning of years of obstacles and tears.
Please bear with me while I try to explain events which have made these past years particularly difficult and has put my family in a position of literally fighting for Terri's life.
In order to understand and have an appreciation for what my parents have gone through you have to allow yourself to fully absorb the facts of the past twelve years.
Though things looked bleak after Terri's accident, Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and legal guardian, pursued a medical malpractice suit on her behalf, which would provide him with the funds to seek aggressive experimental medical treatment for her.
Michael was successful and was awarded $300,000 in punitive damages and Terri was awarded $750,000 for experimental treatment and medical care.
At that time we became hopeful that Terri would be provided with treatment that could possibly help her.
Unfortunately, this hope was short lived.
Soon after the malpractice suit (within three weeks), a division between my family and Michael began to emerge.
Michael immediately began to retract the verbal agreements he had made with my father pertaining to the care and treatment of Terri and it appeared as though he had begun to take a direction of self-serving practice.
Since that time, my family has been fighting an uphill battle against Michael for her life.
What was (and has been) so incredibly upsetting to my family is that the money awarded to Terri in the malpractice suit was awarded specifically for the sole purpose of caring for her -- and for seeking aggressive experimental medical treatment.
Unfortunately, this has not occurred.
In fact, since the malpractice suit, Michael, as Terri's legal guardian, has sought the exact opposite.
In the past ten years Michael has attempted to withhold medical treatment that would have ultimately have led to Terri's demise.
Had the nursing home not alerted my parents, who then intervened and obtained a court order to continue medical treatment, Terri would have died from simple infections that were ultimately cured with antibiotic treatment.
In addition, Michael has sought no medical treatment for Terri outside of what the nursing home provides, which is simply put, "routine care."
To add insult to injury, Michael has completely excluded my family from having input or knowledge pertaining to her medical care.
So as it stands, my parents no more rights to her than you, as a reader, have at this very moment.
This all sounds pretty incredible.
Well, how about these facts!
Terri has no pictures in her hospital room of her family or friends, because when these objects have been placed, they have been promptly removed.
Clothes that my mother has bought and brought to her, have been taken away, never to be seen again.
Terri is not allowed to be taken outside without permission from her husband.
The two cats that my sister had for five years prior to her accident, Michael had euthanized within a year after her cardiac arrest.
Michael has been using my sister's $750,000 medical fund to finance his legal fees -- the same funds that were intended for her medical care and treatment.
In the malpractice deposition, in 1992, Michael stated, "I believe in the vow's I took with my wife. I want to spend the rest of my live with her and I'm going to do that."
So would it surprise you to know -- though Michael is still married to my sister -- he testified in the January 2000 trial that for the last four years he has been engaged to and living with his fiancee?
Based on these facts, hopefully it is easy to see the heartache and frustrations my family has been faced with.
However, in retrospect, none of these obstacles compare to what has recently been placed in front of us.
In 1997, Michael petitioned the court to have Terri's feeding tube removed, claiming that when Terri was in her early twenties, she stated that she would not want to be kept alive on artificial life support.
Until recently, this has never been mentioned.
In attempt to fight his request, we endured a week-long trial, disclaiming that Terri would have ever made this type of request.
Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful, and my family is currently in the process of an appeal.
To say that my family was shocked with the outcome of the trial is an understatement.
My sister exhibits what my family believes is clear evidence of emotion.
She laughs when my mother visits, she cries, she
moans, she smiles, and her eyes 'track.' Doctors testified that these behaviors
I believe it is too coincidental that for over twelve years now, Terri consistently demonstrates these emotional reactions whenever my mother is present.
When I sit by myself and I think about the things that have occurred, I can't help but wonder what the meaning is in all this.
We live in a country where the sane and competent can't choose euthanasia --yet we can expend someone who doesn't have a living will and is too incompetent to verbalizes their own wishes.
I know my sister!
She loved life and I believe she never made the comments Michael claims she made.
In my opinion there was too much ambiguity in this case for a court to order her death.
She is not on a respirator, she is only on a feeding tube.
Otherwise, she is physically in excellent health.
I can't help but think about a statement one of the doctors who testified in the trial made. He stated that her condition is irreversible and that there is no hope of her recovery.
First, I don't understand how he could say this, knowing other individuals in Terri's condition that have made substantial progress.
Second, even if it were true, so what!
Are people with other irreversible conditions with no hope of recovery to also be exterminated?
Of course not, that's just as ludicrous and inhumane as what has been proposed for Terri.
Another question I have is based on Michael's promise to honor his wedding vows.
How can he have his wife's and fiancee's best interest at heart at the same time?
Where is his primary loyalty?
I honestly can't see how he can honor his vows and yet share his life with another women.
Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Michael for wanting to move forward with his life.
He's young and he deserves the opportunity for happiness with someone else just as we all do, but I don't believe it should be through the death of my sister.
In my mind, the logical solution is for him to divorce Terri, give guardianship to my parents, move forward with his life, and allow my parents to seek the medical attention that her trust fund was intended for.
Unfortunately, Michael won't do this.
With what is left of the $750,000 that Michael stands to inherit upon Terri's death, it has become extremely clear to me that his motives are anything but genuine.
The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
4615 Gulf Blvd. # 104-103
Saint Petersburg Beach, FL 33706
Tax ID Number 23-3031168
|3. Letter From Terri's Father|
In a trial initiated by Michael Schiavo -- Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s husband and legal guardian -- a verdict was issued by Circuit Court Judge, George W. Greer, on February 11, 2000.
Judge Greer granted authorization to stop feeding Terri.
Judge Greer’s verdict will cause Terri to die in 10 to 14 days.
Terri will die of starvation.
As Terri’s father, I have been designated as spokesperson for the family, and more important, as a voice for Terri -- appealing to you to join us in our efforts to reverse this travesty of justice.
We have to save Terri’s life.
Essentially, Terri has been sentenced to death.
We do not understand how, in a civilized society, Terri’s life was even put on trial.
Terri has not committed a felony, or any crime.
Terri has not desecrated any commandment of God.
Terri has not violated any of society’s laws.
Terri’s only culpability is ironic.
She has made herself vulnerable because of a $750K medical fund that she acquired via a medical malpractice lawsuit -- payable to her inheritor when she dies.
Terri has no will.
The inheritor is her husband.
The precedence that Terri’s trial and ensuing verdict establishes should frighten everyone.
Basically, any person that is impaired, who cannot speak their mind, is vulnerable to be legally executed.
In Terri’s case, where money is the motivation, the risk increases substantially.
This ruling could potentially open the door to eventually include everyone who is a burden to his or her caretaker or a drain on the state.
The court’s verdict endorsees a current movement attempting to legalize euthanasia in the United States.
After hearing Judge Greer’s verdict, our family reacted with a variety of emotions.
The thought of our daughter’s death by starvation is inexpressible.
There is also empathy for the parents and families of murder victims.
Particularly when the person guilty of committing the crime goes on trial and is acquitted due to dishonest testimony given by witnesses under an oath of God.
The frustration must be unbearable.
Terri’s trial has attracted national media coverage.
People have responded from across the country offering their support.
There have been communications from people who also have family members impaired by brain damage and have recovered.
They relate scenarios where their family member was in the identical situation as Terri.
Like Terri, their child/sister would smile, laugh, cry, moan, show signs of recognition and appear as if they were trying to speak.
In every case, the Neurologist interpreted these actions as reflex.
In every case, the Neurologist prognosis indicated that there was absolutely no chance of recovery.
Remarkably -- and contrary to the negative diagnosis -- they report that there was recovery!
Most notable was a young man who walks daily, unassisted, on a treadmill, and a woman, who after 20 years, has fully recovered.
Also, we have the recently publicized case of Patti White Bull who recovered after 16 years, and Terry Wallis, who recovered after 19 years of being in a condition similar to my daughter.
There is hope for Terri to recover!
She displays the exact characteristics as described by all the callers.
Her husband does not want anyone to believe that Terri is a living human being who consistently responds when stimulated.
He is well aware that he has denied Terri any opportunity to recover for the past eleven years.
Before we can concentrate on assisting Terri’s recovery, the immediate priority is to stop Terri’s execution.
We have to keep Terri alive.
We are dedicated to preserve Terri’s life.
Terri does not deserve to have her precious life cut short.
Please help us. We cannot do this alone. Please join our family and make this a community effort to overturn this cruel verdict.
We must challenge this miscarriage of justice.
Hopefully someday, Terri will personally thank you.
With heartfelt thanks,
Robert Schindler, Sr.
The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
4615 Gulf Blvd. # 104-103
Saint Petersburg Beach, FL 33706
Tax ID Number 23-3031168
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