The Powers That Blog

While we keep track of politics at a certain level, this is not a poliblog, nor a warblog. Maybe "eclectiblog" is a good description, as we note thoughts on topics from art to parenting to whatever comes to mind.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Kidney Transplants

Angela, a BlogsForTerri reader, has some personal knowledge of kidney transplants and believes the ebook I linked to here spoke too unkindly of them. Here are her well articulated thoughts originally posted on this thread:

…The article has some inaccuracies, especially about kidney transplants. Since kidneys are one of the organs that can be used for some time after death, I hate to see kidney transplants badmouthed. There's a hereditary condition in my family where, with no other symptoms, a person's kidneys simply stop working around the age of 30-50. Not polycistic kidney disease, either--the doctors don't know what it is. But my mother's grandmother, father and all his siblings died of it, and so far a little over half the people in her generation have it. My mother has it and was on dialysis for several years before receiving a kidney transplant. That transplant has given her a new life.

One thing a lot of people don't know about dialysis is that not only is it time-consuming to the point where you don't have much of a life outside of dialysis, it does carry a lot of health risks and hemodialysis is quite painful. Also, especially if the person is young when their kidneys failed, kidney dialysis doesn't remain effective forever. It doesn't clean all the toxins out of the blood and it becomes less and less effective after a while. The life expectancy on dialysis is shorter than with a transplant if the person is a good candidate for transplantation and a good match is found.

My mother was getting to the point where kidney dialysis was getting less effective and she was steadily declining, and she was actually starting to think about just stopping dialysis and dying when a kidney became available for her. It was such a perfect match that she's had no problems with rejection and the kidney started functioning before she even got off the operating table.

Yes, the anti-rejection drugs do suppress the immune system and cause some side effects, but my mother is so much happier and healthier than she was before the transplant, and I have no doubt that without it there's a very good chance she wouldn't be alive today. Her general health, energy levels, etc. are ten times better than they were on dialysis and we all believe that kidney transplant gave her back her life…

…Kidneys are one of the organs with the longest "shelf life"--that can be used for quite some time after a person has been dead. So they really can be used from a true cadaver.

I am listed as an organ donor myself, but I certainly don't want to have organs taken before I'm really dead. Once I'm dead they can feel free to use whatever will be helpful; it's not like it will matter to me at that point what's done with my corpse. I would be very happy, though, if after my heart has stopped beating and there's no more function, my kidneys and other organs could give life, sight or health to someone again.

What I was objecting to in the article "The Nasty Side of Organ Transplantation" is that it made it sound like many transplants (and it repeatedly singled out kidney transplants in particular) were only for convenience sake or to make money for doctors. It repeatedly said it was exchanging one disease for another and made it sound like life with a transplanted organ was probably worse than life would have been without the transplant. I wanted to clarify that kidney transplants in particular are not the way they are portrayed in that article.

It made it sound like dialysis was just as good or better of an option and said several times that kidney transplants are only for convenience sake and don't actually save lives. But the truth is that dialysis doesn't do a completely adequate job and just makes the process of dying from kidney disease much slower--dialysis cannot fully replace kidney function. It is very, very hard on your body, as well as uncomfortable and time-consuming, and really only slows the disease process. People still die of kidney disease on dialysis . . . dialysis does keep them alive longer but still leaves them sick to varying (and increasing) degrees. Most people on dialysis are still quite sick from the kidney disease itself, as well as frequently having complications and pain from the dialysis process.

So it's not just exchanging one disease for another that is equal or worse the way that article described it, and it's not an unecessary procedure done for the sake of the time it saves in not having to have dialysis or the money it saves insurance companies--it is a significant improvement in health, life expectancy and quality of life, and it does in fact save lives and often allows people to live years longer (and those years much healthier) than they would have lived on dialysis when a kidney transplant is successful.

Another thing that may be missed in a lot of the studies and info. is that the success of the transplant is largely dependent on the recipient themselves--how well they follow instructions and take care of their new organ. A big part of the reason my mother's transplant has been so successful is that she is so conscientious about taking her medicine, avoiding the things she's not supposed to eat, not taking medications that are hard on the kidneys, etc.--often when an organ fails it's because of "user error" and people not taking care of their organs, although of course there are sometimes unavoidable problems as with anything else.

I can't speak for the other types of transplants, but I know that kidney transplants are not done unless it is likely that the person's quality of life and life expectancy will be significantly increased. You have to have a certain level of kidney failure and have to show that the transplant would be a significant improvement over your current state of health before you get on the list at all, and people who are at a point where the dialysis is no longer effective for them will get priority I'm sure.

People on dialysis will most likely eventually die of kidney disease after years of being very sick from it, so being able to have 5 or 15 really good years of having health and energy again after feeling rotten and being really ill for so many years is nothing short of a miracle. So taking the chance of then perhaps dying of some other illness due to the lowered immune system is worth the risk for many recipients (and, despite the way that article made it sound, the doctors explain the risks and possible complications very thoroughly before a person makes that decision). Even if the recipient dies from cancer or pneumonia a few years down the road, it's that many more years of much better health and possibly several more years of life itself than they would have had otherwise.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


The MunchK is becoming quite talkative. Her first word was "Mama," followed shortly by "Daddy" and "Milky" (to indicate her desire to nurse). It wasn't long before she would repeat just about anything we'd say, especially the last word in a sentence.

Me: "Hi Honey, how was your day?"
The MunchK: "Day."
Crazy Diamond: "Oh, it was alright..."
The MunchK: "'Right."
Crazy Diamond: "I got a fair amount done on my one experiment."
The MunchK: "'sper'mint."
Crazy Diamond: "How was yours?"
The MunchK: "Yours."
Me: "It was fine."
The MunchK: "Fine."

Now the MunchK uses quite a few words to express her needs and desires. She loves it when her father or I (or anyone, really) read books to her. "Book!" she'd say excitedly as she'd bring me not one or two books, but a stack. When she was hungry, she'd say "Eat," and sometimes indicate what it is she'd like: "Apple," "Cracker," or "Banana."

Recently, she has discovered the joy of putting words together. Her first complete sentence was "I'm done." She uses this phrase quite often, mostly it's when she's finished with something she's working on, but also when she's tired of whatever activity she and I are doing together. I try to involve her as much as I can with the house chores, like washing dishes or folding laundry. The MunchK, unfortunately, is not too thrilled with either one of these tasks, and will declare "I'm done!" when she's had enough, whether we're actually finished or not. And, she would like me to be "done" too. After all, there are so many more interesting things to do, like read "Hop on Pop" again.

She runs and grabs the book of interest and says: "Read the book." She's a girl who knows what she wants in life. One book she likes is a collection of young children making various faces accompanied by single words such as "yum-yum!" or "yippee!" All those words are followed by an exclamation mark, which the MunchK calls a "bouncy."

Anything electronic with buttons is called a "beep." But she is quickly learning that there are many different kinds of beeps, like a watch, a timer, a telephone, a camera.

The MunchK is very affectionate with us, and loves giving us hugs, kisses and snuggles, or "'nuggles." Actually, the MunchK will "nuggle" me, her dad, her dolls, various other toys, and today, a few water bottles she'd found. In fact, she wanted me to "nuggle" the water bottles as well.

This evening, Crazy Diamond and I went to the dojo, the "Boom-Slap" according to the MunchK, for our weekly martial arts lesson. Lately, we tend to take turns playing with the MunchK while the other is training. Crazy Diamond and another student were practicing the Yoko Gari, which is a defense against a mugger's hold, where the mugger wraps his arm around the victim's neck and starts chocking him. The victim winds up throwing the attacker. The MunchK and I were watching.

"Nuggle!" was her only comment.

News on the effort for Baby Charlotte

Juleni has been working on arranging for a pro-life doctor from the US to independently evaluate Baby Charlotte. She and others have also been working on finding another place to care for Charlotte as the people at the hospital where she is currently staying have more than expressed the opinion that Charlotte is better off dead. The text below is from a series of comments Juleni and others have posted on this thread of BlogsForTerri:

Everyone, please, please keep on praying. (This is regarding Charlotte.)I know this is off topic, but I need to get this to you all...

I **have had contact with two doctors today**.

The first, is one who is the director of the MC Association of Prolife Physicians (I spoke with him directly). I will call him 'Dr. James'. He is a family physician, however has worked with babies in hospital, before. He, or another physician aquaintance of his may be the one whom God is placing in our path to send to Britain to evaluate Charlotte. He is going to speak with two important doctors who he knows personally, when he is able - and we need to pray for him about this! One is Dr. Patrick, who is a retired medical professor and missionary, and is currently the president of a college in Canada. Dr. Patrick is affiliated with the CMDA (Christian Medical & Dental Associations). Dr. Patrick is actually traveling right now - today, April 26th through May 9th, so Dr. James really needs prayer that God will open the way for him to directly contact Dr. Patrick, soon, even during his travels....
Dr. James is also going to contact Dr. C. Everett Koop, MD the former Surgeon General of the US, who is a pediatric surgeon and whom Dr. Johnston personally knows.

Here is a bit about Dr. Koop:
"Surgeon General Koop continued to champion children with disabilities, an issue with which he had long been involved as a pediatric surgeon. He organized a workshop on respirator-dependent children in December 1982, which explored ways of caring for these children in their own homes rather than in hospitals, and making Medicaid funds available to pay for long-term home care. One of the last conferences he convened was the "Surgeon General's Conference on Growing Up and Getting Medical Care: Youth with Special Health Care Needs," held in March 1989. In numerous speeches Koop urged policymakers, physicians, health care administrators, educators, and the public to recognize the dignity, rights, needs, and capabilities of children with life-threatening birth defects and other impairments. A growing number of such children were saved by advances in medicine, but were left with disabilities. Throughout his eight years as Surgeon General, Koop was the most outspoken and persistent government advocate for increasing access to medical and health care, educational opportunities, and employment for these children." (from )
Here is a verse to encourage prayer: "Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. **The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much**." (James 5:16)

TO 'DOCTOR JAMES' - Thank you for taking my call and for making calls on behalf of Charlotte's life, if you are reading this!

Second :
Dr. Paul Byrne called me! Thank you for your call, Dr. Byrne!
Dr. Byrne will also visit Charlotte's website today, and I am forwarding emails to him from Hannah, regarding Charlotte.

'Dr. James' and Dr. Byrne said some good things, to us. I really want to post some of their good words, here, but will have to later, because time is of such an expediency right now!

Thirdly, a private contact is getting ahold of two prolife pediatric cardiologists at the University of Michigan, Dr. Beekman and Dr. Ludamerski, but this contact is waiting on some more very specific information from Hannah, that these specialists will need to determine if they should be the ones to go to England.


Thank you. And please know that none of this could be possible without your prayers.

This could be good news....I do not know when this happened (and if they accepted)but I got this email tonight.

Dear Jody

I know that you have made contact with our Life Headquarters staff and with Zoë's, I will liaise with both and e-mail you as soon as possible.

Just so that you are aware, Zoe's offered a place for Charlotte.

Yours sincerely

Virginia Griffin
National Fertility Co-ordinator

It seems like progress is being made. Thanks, Juleni, for all your hard work!

Charlotte Wyatt -- Don't give up on me!


Unbelievable! Here we are almost in May and officially over a month into spring and last night it snowed. The MunchK got another chance to put on the snowsuit she received from her Aunt this past Christmas, and off we trotted outsite for her to once again experience her beloved snow. Only she leaves out the "s" when she says it so it sounds more like "No."

We took a little walk up and down our street. It was really weird seeing the young grass poking through the snow, and tree branches covered with both fresh green buds and snow. The snow is already starting to melt, leaving lots of puddles, which the MunchK enjoyed walking through with her rubber waterproof alligator boots on.

We didn't stay out too long, but I'm sure the MunchK will be asking me to take her "out' tide" again as soon as she wakes up from her nap.

Young grass and tree buds covered by a late snowfall Posted by Hello

The MunchK walking through the puddles Posted by Hello

Teron Francis' Family Consents to Removing the Ventilator (Updated)

According to New York Daily News, Teron Francis' family has made the difficult decision to take him off the ventilator after they obtained a second medical opinion that he is brain dead.

Earl Appleby, director of Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia and a contributing author on BlogsForTerri has written Judge McKeon asking him to not lift the injunction against removing Francis from the ventilator.

UPDATE: Teron's ventilator was removed yesterday at 5:00pm. His heart and other organs stopped thereafter, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Update on Colorado Organ Donation Case

I have been advised (HT: PoliticaObscura) since posting this yesterday that the county coroner who ruled the death as a homicide due to organ harvesting has amended the ruling to death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a review by the District Attorney.

Some of the stories about this that were published in the Rocky Mountain News can be found here. More detailed information on the findings of the DA review are located here.

According to the findings of the DA review, The standard tests performed in this case included clinical observations of the absence of brain stem reflexes, as well as standard apnea testing. These tests are routinely used in the evaluation of brain death not only in Colorado, but throughout the nation.

The medical diagnosis of brain death has been recognized since August of 1968, following the first heart transplant surgery in 1967. Controversy as to the validity of this diagnosis remains, as illustrated by this story (you will have to scroll down to find it):

Can 'brain dead' donors respond? 8-20-00By Andrew Alderson and Jenny Booth - UK Newss - Electronic Telegraph - Claim of donor pain 'will hit transplant surgery' SOPHIE PARKE, 11, would almost certainly be dead today if she had not undergone two heart transplant operations. Earlier this month Sophie launched a national campaign to encourage a million more people to carry organ donor cards. She was joined by her mother and Lord Hunt, the health minister, in a joint initiative by the National Health Service and Boots, the chemist.

Yesterday Sophie's family was alarmed that the chance of other patients having transplants could be harmed by a medical debate over concerns that "dead" donors may feel pain while their organs are being removed. Jane Parke, Sophie's mother, spoke of her fears that the debate, though legitimate, could set back the programme by years. Mrs Parke, who lives in Gloucestershire, said: "Without donors and the transplant programme, Sophie wouldn't be alive today. I would be worried by anything that put anyone off donating their organs. "There are an awful lot of people still waiting for a transplant and their only chance is finding a suitable donor. I am sure this medical debate will concern them, especially if it puts people off becoming donors."

The debate was started by Dr Philip Keep, a consultant anaesthetist at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, who fears that brain-dead patients may still feel pain while their organs are being removed. Because of his reservations, he will not carry a donor card until medical guidelines are changed to make it compulsory for donors to be given an anaesthetic before their organs are removed.

Dr Keep, 58, has now provoked controversy with a letter in Anaesthesia, the journal of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, saying that many people within the profession feel uneasy about the issue. This weekend at his home in Norwich he said: "Nurses get really, really upset. You stick the knife in and the pulse and blood pressure shoot up. If you don't give anything at all, the patient will start moving and wriggling around and it's impossible to do the operation. The surgeon has always asked us to paralyse the patient." Other experts have supported his criticism of the guidelines issued last year by the Intensive Care Society (ICS), which represents doctors, that anaesthetic is not necessary.

Yesterday fears were growing that people across the country would tear up their donor cards because they could feel pain while their organs were being removed. Dr Keep said: "I am very much in favour of organ transplantations. I think everything should be done to obtain donor organs. I am worried about the process by which these donor organs are obtained at the moment because it is not necessary to give an anaesthetic to a patient who is having his donor organs removed." "I will not carry a donor card for that very reason. If I knew that somebody was going to give me an anaesthetic before my donor organs were removed I would carry a donor card and I think a lot of other people who have got these doubts would carry a donor card as well. The number of potential donors would go up if donors were given anaesthetics," he said.

"I am not saying that these patients are alive, I am not saying that these patients can feel pain. I am saying I do not know whether these patients are alive, I am saying I do not know whether these patients can feel pain in some sense and, under those circumstances, I am not prepared to carry a donor card."

The debate centres on the term "brain dead' and the fact that organs such as the lungs, liver and heart cannot be removed if a patient's heart has stopped. Dr Keep said: "You have to keep the patient's heart beating [with a ventilator] all the way through the operation until the organs have been removed." There are 5,500 people waiting for a transplant. Last year 2,800 people received lifesaving organ transplants, the huge majority a donated kidney.

A spokesman for UK Transplant, which co-ordinates transplants in British hospitals, said that although eight million people are listed as potential donors on the NHS organ register, the number of donors is falling. She said: "In 1990 we had 1,009 donors but since then the number has dropped every year. "Last year we had only 815 donors. The situation is dire, and it is becoming increasingly worrying. Our waiting list for an organ has risen by four per cent every year since 1990."

The accepted definition of "brain dead" was laid down in the late 1970s as "the irreversible cessation of all the functions of the entire brain". Other anaesthetists are uneasy that brain monitors often show signs of activity in the higher brain when organs are removed. At present, no one knows what these electrical impulses mean.

Professor Michael Harmer, who edits Anaesthesia, said he disagreed with Dr Keep and believed that "99.9 per cent of anaesthetists" did too. He said: "Dr Keep has given a sensational description of something [reactions during operations] that I have never seen, and no one I know has ever seen. There is no problem. Everyone is absolutely confident that the current criteria for brain-stem death is absolutely reliable."

Dr Giles Morgan, the president of the ICS, conceded that it was healthy to worry about the welfare of the donors and said he stll gives them anaesthetics. "Why do I do it? Because I am a human being and it does make us feel a little more comfortable. It is a very traumatic thing."

A couple whose 25-year-old daughter died from a brain tumour last month said yesterday that they had no doubts when they went to donate her organs to seven different people. Her liver went to a man with 24 hours to live, her kidneys to two other people, and her heart valves and corneas to help four other people lead healthier lives. The woman's father, a former Army medic who asked not to be identified but was convinced that his daughter had not suffered said: "We had no qualms about it. I was there personally when brain-stem tests were carried out and I was more than satisfied that the compassion and care of the doctors were unparalleled."

More commentary on the concept of brain death can be found within this article

Are the patients really dead at the time of organ harvesting?
Organ transplantation is linked to the notion of “brain death.” As a matter of fact, supporters of “brain death” as a criterion for declaring a patient dead readily admit that one of its main purposes is to aid in the harvesting of organs. In 1997, the “brain death” debate in Japan focused exclusively on the need for adopting this criterion into law in order to advance the harvesting of organs there. One major newspaper editorialized against "brain death" asking, “Could you accept that a loved one is dead, even if the heart still beats and cheeks are flush?”(4) Still, the bill passed and is now law.

Before “brain death” was initiated in 1968, it was legally and ethically difficult, and practically impossible, to harvest unpaired vital organs such as the heart. The traditional criterion for declaring death centers on absence of breathing, heartbeat and brain function. Although some tissues can be harvested after death declared under the traditional criterion, hearts can be harvested in good condition for transplant only while there are functioning circulatory and respiratory systems, which exist when a person has been declared "brain dead."(5) This is necessary because blood must be pumping in and out of the heart and the respiratory system must be transporting oxygen to the heart. If this does not happen, destruction of the heart will occur.

Under the “brain death” criterion, the patient is declared “brain dead” while his or her vital organs are still functioning. The patient is paralyzed but not given anything for pain. An incision is then made, and the beating heart and other organs are removed for harvesting.

While some say that the “brain dead” patient is truly dead, a variety of evidence calls into question the entire notion of “brain death.” Scholars and physicians admit that “brain death” is conceptually and practically flawed.(6)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Organ Harvesting Homicide?

A reader of my most recent post on BlogsForTerri posted a link to this article written about six months ago about a Colorado suicide victim whose death was ruled by the coroner to be the result of organ procurement, not the gunshot wound to his head.

The author is in favor of organ donation in priciple but believes the current lack of uniform standards for adequately determining brain death pose ethical and public relations problems to the organ transplant industry. He challenges the industry to work hard to make sure organs are only being harvested from truly brain dead people so that public confidence in the industry will not be eroded.

I post it because I believe it provides some balance and a different viewpoint to the material I linked to in my previous post.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know...

The circumstances surrounding Teron Francis have prompted much discussion on the diagnosis of brain death and organ donation. In the interest of encouraging factual research and formation of opinions based on documented investigation rather than propaganda, I want to refer all interested readers to this publically available electronic book titled The Nasty Side of Organ Transplanting.

The author is clearly against organ donation. I have managed to corroborate a few of the facts and arguments he presents elsewhere. I learned some very interesing information from this book that at the very least has caused me to question the assumption I've held until now (though with reservations) that organ donation is basically a noble and good thing.

Here are a few of the things I learned:

The very first heart transplant took place in 1967. It was after this transplant that Harvard University set up an ad hoc committee to examine the condition of brain death.
This committee of thirteen neurologists, neurosurgeons, lawyers, philosophers and an anaesthetist decided in August 1968 that death could be proclaimed if a patient failed to respond to a series of reflex tests. They called it the Harvard Criteria of Brain Death Test. This allowed a patient with a healthy, beating heart and fully operating renal and endocrine system to be defined as dead, just like a cold corpse.
This is significant to me because I had previously believed that the determination of "brain death" had become necessary with the invention of ventilators, heart/lung machines and other such equipment.

While some organs, such as kidneys and eyes, may be obtained from a donor who is dead as in no breathing, no heart beat, there are organs, such as heart and lungs, that can only be obtained while the donor remains on life support with the heart beating throughout the harvesting operation. This is something even the promoters of organ donation will admit, though they do not exactly advertise it.

The standards for determining brain death vary widely depending on the location and policies of the hospital, and the diagnostic methods all have issues ranging from inaccuracy to possibly even aggravating brain damage.

Due to the high demand for donor organs and other body parts, there is considerable motivation to accelerate a diagnosis of brain death in an organ donor patient compared to a non organ donor. Physicians attending the brain-injured have reported receiving pressure from the organ transplant teams to declare a patient brain dead.

There have been reported instances of organ donors exhibiting physical fear reactions (increased pulse rate, flailing of limbs) to the organ harvesting process. It has also been recommended that donors be given pain medication during the harvesting.

Medications given to preserve a patient's organs can be harmful to the brain, and efforts to save the brain from further damage can compromise the viability of the organs from a transplanting perspective.

There are numerous issues on the receiving end of an organ transplant. Many recipients do not even survive the surgery. Those who do need to be on immune suppressant drugs to prevent rejection; those drugs make them vulnerable to many other diseases. Receiving an organ transplant has been described as trading one medical condition for another. Often, the survival rate of organ recipients is not better than for those with the same condition that did not receive a transplant.

There is much, much more. I would say that anyone who is considering either donating or receiving an organ should read this and make sure the issues raised are addressed to your satisfaction. I would also encourage more independent verification of the material because if even half of what is written is true, the implications are chilling.

Cross-posted on BlogsForTerri.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Charlotte Wyatt -- Don't give up on me!

The Latest on Teron Francis

In the hearing concerning Teron Francis, Judge Douglas McKeon ruled that it is up to the family to decide if and when to remove him from the ventilator. The Montefiore medical directors are standing by the diagnosis that Francis is brain dead, and also insisting they never intended to pull the plug on him against his family's wishes. The family now needs time to decide what to do.

Read the story here.

Cross-posted on BlogsForTerri.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

More on Teron Francis

BlogsForTerri has posted this update on Teron Francis. The judge in the case has decided Francis can be kept on the ventilator until Monday, when there will be an actual hearing among all parties concerned. It seems to me that the basic conflict is whether or not to take the teenager off the ventilator while his heart is still beating. Apparently the hospital staff are insisting the boy is brain dead and should be taken off; the family want to keep him on the ventilator until he actually dies on his own--i.e., his heart stops beating. I'm a bit confused because in an earlier report, a representative of the hospital was quoted as saying they were not insisting that Francis be taken of anything until the family, his mother in particular, consents. However, there is a hearing scheduled for Monday, and a judge is involved, which indicates a conflict between two or more parties.

We will keep a sharp eye on this story as it develops. If there is indeed a conflict going on, the conflict is not among dissenting family members; it is between a family united around at the very least wanting their loved one to pass away naturally, and a hospital that for whatever reason wants to hasten his death by taking him off the ventilator. Again, I want everyone who reads this to note where the conflict lies: family vs. the medical staff. This does not bode well.

When a Doctor Says There's Nothing More He Can Do...

BlogsForTerri posted some news and commentary about Teron Francis, a young man from the Bronx who is currently on a ventilator having fallen victim to some sort of brain infection. An update is available here on New York Newsday.

The gist of the story is that thirteen-year-old Teron Francis complained of a headache and toothache, was taken to the hospital and given a CAT scan. The doctors diagnosed an infection had gone to his brain. He then went into convulsions, became unconscious and was hooked onto a ventilator.

Apparently, at some point, the family was encouraged to take the boy off the ventilator and donate his organs. The family felt threatened by this and arranged for a hearing resulting in Francis remaining connected to the ventilator. The family says the hospital personnel threatened to remove Francis from the ventilator; the hospital personnel are denying that they would have ever forced the issue, saying it's up to the family.

It seems now the family has accepted that Francis will probably die, and they want him to die on his own, not as a result of an action they have taken, so he continues to breathe with the assistance of a ventilator, while the doctors at the hospital insist he is brain dead and there is nothing that can be done for him.

In reading this story, I am not inclined to believe there is any foul play involved. It seems that Teron Francis succumbed to a nasty infection, and the doctors' diagnosis is probably correct. The family's desire to keep him on the ventilator until he dies on his own is understandable, and in my opinion the right thing to do. The hospital personnel's desire to not see his organs go to waste is also a legitimate concern, but secondary, and it seems they recognize this.

So why bring this up? And why is this story on BlogsForTerri, a site dedicated to advocating for the lives of disabled people in danger of being "allowed to die" when they are not going to die without some (shall we say) assistance?

I believe the simple answer is that the behavior and words of some doctors and other medical professionals in situations where the patient was not terminal, only severely disabled, have seriously undermined our trust in doctors and their diagnoses. Terri Schindler was a non-terminal, severely disabled patient, and the only way she was going to die was if she was killed, which is what happened. Yet, many doctors came forward saying she was brain dead, in a persistent vegetative state, and in general better off dead. These doctors made the pronouncements despite the fact that Terri did not receive two out of the three diagnostic tests (MRI and PET-scan) required to make the diagnosis of PVS. I even heard a local doctor claim that if you looked at the CT-scan, you would see that so much of her brain had deteriorated that there was no doubt as to her condition of PVS.

Then when it became clear that Terri was going to be starved and dehydrated to death, doctors and other such "experts" trotted out on TV informing us of how painless and euphoric death by starvation was, that Terri wasn't there anyway, so she wouldn't feel a thing.

All of these claims were made in light of abundant and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In Great Britain, we have an eighteen-month-old baby who is also severely disabled, and the people at the hospital where she is being treated are saying there is no hope for her and she's better off dead. As far as I know per the last court hearing, there is a standing Do Not Resucitate order on baby Charlotte. If she stops breathing, the hospital staff won't lift a finger to help her breathe again. These doctors attending Baby Charlotte have already been wrong about her prognosis on some important issues. For example, they proclaimed
"that she was permanently blind, deaf,and unresponsive, and would never survive the winter--- that she was 'terminally ill' and therefore any aggressive treatment would be pointless." Now, Charlotte can see, hear, is very responsive, and did indeed survive the winter. Yet still, the doctors with the support of a judge are holding fast to their opinion that this girl should die.

I posted earlier about a disabled man who can even stand on his own, but whose doctors will not change their definition of his condition as PVS, which has resulted in the father not being able to get any help from insurance to give his son therapy.

The result of hearing story after story where doctors are not only dead wrong in their diagnoses but stubbornly refuse to amend those diagnoses even in the face of abundant and overwhelming contrary evidence is that our trust in doctors, their diagnoses and their recommendations is severely undermined. So when a doctor tells a distraught family there is nothing more we can do; your son is brain dead, is the family supposed to just believe him? Maybe there really is nothing more that can be done. Maybe the doctor has just decided the patient would be so disabled his life wouldn't have any real "quality" by his definition. Maybe the hospital just needs the bed space. There's no way a family can know for sure. Not anymore.

It is truly unfortunate, especially for the honest doctors who put in long hours and work their hearts out for their patients. Many doctors would never dream of delivering anything but their honest to goodness medical opinion to the people who count on them. But some very prominent doctors have proven themselves untrustworthy and as a result, all doctors are now suspect.

So when a patient's loved one, knowing all this, hears the pronouncement "There is nothimg more I can do for your son/daughter/husband/wife/mother/father" it is entirely understandable that they mistrust that pronouncement from the beginning, even when the doctor is absolutely right. This too is part of the unfolding tragedy.

Friday, April 22, 2005

What's in a Living Will?

Crazy Diamond and I are in the process of drawing up our will, mainly so that should we both die, the MunchK will be raised by people of our choosing. Our very friendly and helpful law firm asked in the will questionaire if we would also like a living will drawn up for us to sign as well. I checked the "yes" box--this was before I learned that signing a living will would not be in my best interests--so when I opened up the package from the law firm today, there was the living will document. All I have to do is answer the multiple choice question, round up a couple witnesses and a notary, and sign it.

In the aftermath of Terri Schindler's court-appointed death, I have read a fair number of articles like this one (HT: BFT) cautioning me against signing a living will, but I have not until a couple hours ago seen what the much discussed living will document actually says. Now, after reading the document drawn up for me, I know that I should definitely not sign it, and I won't. It seems to me that just signing it is already giving people who don't know me and therefore don't personally care about me way too much freedom with my life. I find the language to be rather vague and general, which means open to interpretation, and there's already a bias in favor of death over life in the document itself.

Here is what it actually says:


Pursuant to the [my state] Medical Treatment Decision Act, C.R.S. Title [ ], Article [ ],

I, [Beautiful Belgian Babe], being of sound mind and at least eighteen years of age, direct that my life shall not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below and hereby declare that:

1. If at any time my attending physician and one other qualified physician certify in writing that:
a. I have an injury, disease or illness which is not curable or reversible and which in their judgment, is a terminal condition, and
b. For a period of seven consecutive days or more, I have been unconscious, comatose or otherwise incompetent so as to be unable to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning my person, then

I direct that, in accordance with [my state] law, life-sustaining procedures shall be withdrawn and withheld pursuant to the terms of this declaration, it being understood that life-sustaining procedures shall not include any medical procedure or intervention for nourishment considered necessary by the attending physician to provide comfort or alleviate pain. However, I may specifically direct, in accordance with [my state] law, that artificial nourishment be withdrawn or withheld pursuant to the terms of this declaration.

2. In the event that the only procedure I am being provided is artificial nourishment, I direct that one of the following actions be taken:
___a. Artificial nourishment shall not be continued when it
is the only procedure being provided; or
___b. Artificial nourishment shall be continued for ___days when it is the only procedure being provided; or
___c. Artificial nourishment shall be continued when
it is the only procedure being provided.

3. I execute this declaration, as my free and voluntary act, this ___day of _______, 200__.

By _____________________

The foregoing instrument was signed and declared by[Beautiful Belgian Babe] to be her declaration, in the presence of us, in her presence, in the presence of each other, and at her request, have signed our names below as witnesses1, and we declare that, at the time of the execution of this instrument, that declarant, according to our best knowledge and belief, was of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

Dated at______, [my state], this___day of _______,200__.

[Places for two witnesses to sign their names and write in their addresses]

Heirs, beneficiaries,
claimants, physicians or other patients by law may not witness your Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment.

[It goes on to include the part where the notary signs it]

Steve Sakac on his Disabled Son

This story comes from Sherri, and it is incredible. Two things come through strongly in the story. One is the incredible love this father has not just for his son, but for vulnerable people in general (see especially talking point #3 towards the end). The other point that practically screams is that doctors are often wrong, and those mistakes as well as the refusal to correct an error can cause some real problems.

Doctors Said Tony had One Week to Live......15 Years Ago!!!
Per email from Ron Panzer Pres/Founder of
Hospice Patients Alliance


Steve (Istvan) Sakac from Fairfax, Virginia is the father of Tony Sakac. Tony, at age 16, used to travel the country and speak to groups of teenagers about the wonderful relationship he had with his father. Tony, now 31, became ill at the age of 16 when he went on a school field trip. When he came home from this trip he complained of ear pain, sore throat, headache, dizziness and tiredness.

The first doctor to see Tony said he had a minor flu. Three days later his condition had worsened, so father and son returned to the hospital. The second doctor looked at Tony for five minutes, said that Tony had the flu, and sent them home.

The third day after this visit Tony was a lot worse and was walking as if he were drunk. The third doctor consulted at another hospital also claimed Tony had a bad flu. Steve challenged this diagnosis and demanded they admit Tony to the hospital and run some tests to determine what was wrong. The doctor got so upset that he threw the pair out of the hospital with the help of four policemen.

The next morning, November 10, 1990, at 8:00 am, Tony had a seizure and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He continued to have seizures for four days. After four weeks, two doctors and a lawyer told Steve, "We're sorry but your son is brain dead and a vegetable. He has about one week to live, and we would like you to sign this paper so that his organs can be harvested to save lives."

Tony's father became angry, thinking of how they had been thrown out of the hospital, and now he was being asked to donate his son's organs! Everyone except for Steve had totally given up on Tony.

Steve stayed with his son day and night, never leaving his bedside. He requested a temporary feeding tube (naso-gastric) be inserted to make it easier for him to care for Tony by himself, and after six months he took Tony home. Upon discharge the doctor said to give Tony only water and Ensure, eight cans a day and NOTHING ELSE. This regimen was followed for 2½ years, while Tony remained like a vegetable. Since this was clearly not working, Steve started him on real food, which he pureed and put in the feeding tube. Meanwhile, Steve gradually eliminated Tony's tranquilizers and eight different medications.

Tony showed immediate improvement, and on May 20, 1993, he stood up for 3½ hours with the help of a tilt table. This table was donated by a dear woman who herself had been severely injured. Tony's improvement accelerated as his father exercised his arms and legs with range of motion therapy for 3½ hours a day. This therapy is performed from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. every night because Steve has determined that this is the best time of the day for Tony's brain development.

On July 11, 1994, Tony was so much better that he was able to stand with the assistance of crutches. Then after a month of standing with crutches, his left knee became swollen to twice its normal size. After going to over 20 different hospitals, the only remedy suggested was to not have Tony stand up. This was unacceptable to Steve. Father and son went across the United States in search of braces and other equipment to assist the younger man. Medicare and insurance issued a denial of benefits because the neurologist said he shouldn't be stood up, so therefore, he didn't need braces.

Since having the braces, Tony has improved greatly. He likes to stand for hours at a time, sometimes 8-9 hours a day. He is also taking steps. Steve would like to do more, but the neurologist has classified Tony as brain dead.

He is not brain dead and that is why Steve is pleading with our President to review our public policy when it comes to classifying and caring for our handicapped, injured, retarded and disabled citizens.


Steve was desperate to be interviewed and shown with his son on national television from Pinellas Park, Florida before Terri Schiavo-Schindler died. He felt that if Americans saw Tony and heard their story that Terri would have her feeding tube put back in the next day. He said, "I guarantee results!" But alas, he did not get his wish to be interviewed on national television and Terri passed away the next day. The following would have been Steve's talking points for his interview:

1.President Bush, Governor Bush, Congress and the American People; The reason why I came all the way to Florida from Fairfax, Virginia not knowing how I was going to pay my expenses, was to show you that my son is NOT brain-dead or in a vegetative state and neither is Terri Schiavo.

2.I can't work because I care for my son full-time. He has been disabled for 15 years. His mother left him when he was 2 months old and I was left to care for our 3 sons.

3.If Michael Schiavo really loved Terri he would be taking care of her like I am taking care of my son. Tell him to divorce her and I will marry her and take care of her!!!

4.Because of misdiagnosis, I can't get Medicare or my insurance to pay for the things Tony must have to continue his needed therapy. He was diagnosed as PVS (persistent vegetative state) 15 years ago and they won't pay to have him re-evaluated even though he is now in a minimally conscious state, which allows Medicare to pay for therapy. To re-evaluate him, a doctor must observe him for 8 hours straight, and they won't do it.

5.Why are we paying for the health care of foreigners in this country and we let our own people go without the necessary treatment they need?

6.I want to caution everyone to be very careful and investigate as much as possible before they accept as fact any diagnosis or implement any treatment prescribed by their doctor.

Note from Steve: Our country, the USA, brings over very sick people from foreign countries whom U.S. doctors try to help for free, to save their lives, to get them braces and help, room and board and everything for free, while many American disabled citizens get no care. This is extremely unfair.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to contact Steve, (Istavan) Sakac, Tel. 703-577-4626, P.O. Box 2594, Fairfax VA 22031.

Prepared by Lisa Wilson, M.S. 785-845-3664, 1132 NW Harrison St. Topeka, KS 66608. Thanks to Donna Rodgers, Atlanta GA, and Judith Goldsberry, M.A., Clearwater FL for typing and editing. We are referring to Terri as Terri Schindler since her passing at the direction of Monsignor Malanowski who said she is out of Michael's control now and back with her parents.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Charlotte's Biography

Here is a synnopsis of Charlotte Wyatt's story:

Charlotte Wyatt--a short biography

Charlotte Paige Wyatt was born prematurely at St. Mary's hospital on the 21st of October 2003. She weighed 458 grams (about a pound) and was barely five inches long. Three times in her short life she had to be re-ventilated--the last time being July.

After that the hospital said that because she was born prematurely (at 26 weeks), and because she was only the size of a 19 week old baby, she had no chance to pull through. They decided that if her lungs would collapse due to an infection, they would not re-ventilate her, but stand by and watch her die.

Her parents brought it to court, but in a September ruling, the Judge agreed with the doctors, who testified that her quality of life was "terrible", that she could not see or hear, and that she was just living in a glass box, in constant pain, with oxygen being shot at her all the time. Her parents did not give up though, they continued to fight on. . .

In mid March they went back to the judge with new information, information to prove that she had improved, unlike what the doctors thought, and that she would react to sound, and light.--that she could see and hear. The doctors even admitted that she had improved a great deal--but they still thought that it was not enough. They testified that although now she could hear and see, her brain had stopped growing. The judge did not rescind his order allowing Charlotte to die, but he did tell her parents to collect lots of evidence. This evidence they were to bring to him at a hearing after Easter, when he would decide if she should be allowed to live or not.

This coming Thursday, on April 21, Mr. Justice Hedley will look at all the evidence her parents have collected to try and prove that her life is worthwhile. He will then make a descision on wether to recind his previous order, letting Charlotte live, or if he will let the doctors allow her to die.

Baby Charlotte

Charlotte Wyatt is an eighteen month old baby who was born three months premature with a bleak prognosis. She has beaten the odds and continues to live today, though she still needs medical attention. Right now, there's a fight going on between her parents who want their daughter to live and the doctors at the hospital, who believe the infant should not be resucitated should she stop breathing. BlogsForTerri has the story here.

In reading the story you will notice that this is not a fight among family members who disagree on how to treat a disabled family member. In this case, the family is united--or at least we are not aware of any family members pushing for Charlotte's death. No. In this case, it is a fight between the parents, who brought her into the world and the hospital doctors, who are not at all related to her. All those of you who insisted Terri Schiavo's medical care decisions ought to have been kept within the family take note. Now it's the doctors vs. the parents.

And in the middle of it all is an infant who is fighting to live.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Judicial Nominees

This comes from Sherri via BlogsForTerri.

April 19, 2005
ACTION ALERT!!!! The Most Important Vote: Fr. Frank Pavone
The Most Important Vote

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

Sometime in the next few weeks, the United States Senate will hold the most important vote of this generation. It is that important for the same reason that last year’s election was the most important one of our generation. As an election season billboard said, "Think of the Supreme Court!"

The vote I’m talking about will affect how easily the Senate can put the right men and women onto the Federal Courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court. It is a vote regarding Senate rules, and, simply put, will determine whether nominees who already have the support of a majority of the Senators can be voted on.

You may ask why this is even an issue, especially if the judicial nominees in question already have the support of the majority of the Senate.

Good question.

The United States Constitution says that the President nominates people to serve on our Federal Courts, and that the US Senate is to give "advice and consent." In other words, the President presents these nominees to the Senate, and then the Senators vote "yes" or "no" as to whether that nominee will serve as a Federal Judge. The same process is used when there is a vacancy on the US Supreme Court, and such a vacancy may occur within the next couple of months.

The President has been nominating people for the Federal courts, and there have been votes and confirmations. But there is an entire group of well-qualified nominees who, in the judgment of Senate Democrats, are too "far right" for their liking. Of course, these Democrats have the right to think what they want about the nominees, and they have the right to vote against them. They also have the right to try to persuade other Senators to vote against them.

But they are not content with that. They now want to claim the right to prevent a vote one way or the other. And they do that by prolonging debate on the nominee indefinitely, so that the debate never closes and the vote is never taken. This process is called a "filibuster."

Now filibusters do have their place. There may be legislation, for example, that the minority party objects to. A filibuster can be used to indefinitely prolong debate on the legislation. This gives the minority some leverage, so that they do not lose their power altogether.

But while filibusters have an appropriate place in legislative debates, we are witnessing, for the first time in history, the use of the filibuster technique to block the "advice and consent" process of the Senate for judicial nominees, when the nominees already have the support of the majority of Senators. To the extent that the Senator is deprived of a vote, the people who elected that Senator are deprived of their voice at the highest levels of government. If this can be done now with Federal judges, it will certainly be done with a Supreme Court Justice.

Federal judges have removed "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, allowed child pornography as protected free speech, redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, struck down bans on partial-birth abortion, and contradicted the will of the people in many other ways. Many Senators want this to stop, and they can stop it by confirming judges who know the difference between applying the law and imposing their political preferences on the people.

The vote that is coming up in the next few weeks is designed to end the abuse of the filibuster and provide a fair up-or-down vote on judges. This is a unique opportunity to tell your Senators you care about the unpredecented and unfair filibustering of President Bush's nominees. Senators need to know that you care about this issue and are watching how they vote.

ACTION: You can reach your senators through the Capitol Switchboard today, or any day, at (202) 224-3121. Just dial this number and ask to be transferred to your Senator's office. You'll have to call twice in order to place a call to each of your two Senators. (You can get direct contact information for both of your home state Senators at the website,, as well.) If you call the main switchboard, simply ask for the Senator you are calling, and when that Senator's office answers, explain that you support a return to the constitutional tradition of a fair up-or-down vote on judicial nominees and an end to the filibuster of judges. We recommend that you also call the local state office of your Senator with the same message. It is even more powerful if you pay a visit to the local state office to register your concern.

SUGGESTED MESSAGE: "Hello, I'm a voter from (NAME OF YOUR STATE) and I support the constitutional option to end the filibuster of judges. Please tell Senator (NAME OF YOUR SENATOR) that every one of President Bush's judicial nominees should be brought to the Senate floor for a fair up-or-down vote. Thank You."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Clara Martinez

Clara Martinez is a mother living in Chicago who suffered a debilitating stroke about a year ago. Her husband stopped feeding her about a month ago, though she continued to drink water. Due to intervention from various sources, Clara is now receiving nutrition once again. BlogsForTerri has continuing and detailed coverage of her story.

It iis my unfortunate realization that starving and/or dehydrating disabled people is actually fairly common practice. One of our goals at BlogsForTerri is to increase awareness of this injustice. Hopefully, we can save a few lives that way.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Going Raw

A few months after my daughter was born, a friend gave me a magazine published by a Christian organization called Above Rubies. It is run by a family—each of the six children and/or their spouses contribute to the monthly magazine--and the mission of this organization is to encourage women in their calling as mothers. It has a special emphasis on attachment parenting and natural living so I very much enjoyed the few issues I read. One of the authors, Serene Allison, was into the raw food diet and would mention it in her articles. She wrote a recipe book (I guess you wouldn’t call it a cook book) which you can buy through Above Rubies.

That was my very first exposure to the raw food diet. I mentioned what I had learned to my husband, who immediately observed there are some foods you don’t want to eat raw. Things like eggs and meat. The idea seemed a little radical, and I wasn’t about to adopt it at that time, but the idea stayed in the back of my mind.

My daughter is now a toddler and still nursing. I started introducing solid foods into her diet when she was seven months old. The first thing she ate was a banana. Then it was onto cooked carrots and potatoes, then fruit, avocados, chicken and other meat, and more recently crackers and other wheat products, eggs, minimal dairy, and most recently nuts and seeds. Now she eats just about anything, and other than a mild reaction to dairy products, she doesn’t have any allergies.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at my local food coop. Browsing through the book section, I came across the book Rawsome by Brigitte Mars. Oh, it’s about the raw foods diet, I thought. I noted the title and author and requested it at the library.

Meanwhile, I was starting to notice the different types of crackers I’d bought for a quick snack on the road for my daughter were piling up in my pantry as one after another, my daughter would refuse them. The only crackers she really enjoys are the pretzel flavored Goldfish crackers. Instead, she preferred frozen corn, various fruits, avocados, and of all things, whole raw tomatoes. I enjoy munching on nuts and seeds, and one day, I gave her some sunflower seeds. She just loved them. So the next time I went to the coop, I bought more sunflower seeds and various other seeds and combined them with some raisins and other dried fruit into a trail mix. My daughter really loved all the seeds except for the pine nuts. I also noticed that although she enjoys the oatmeal I regularly cook for her, she’s just as happy to eat the uncooked rolled oats.

By this time I had started reading Rawsome and was carefully studying the chapter explaining what it takes to convert your kitchen to a raw kitchen.

I’m not sure what it was exactly that made me decide to go for it. I’m sure the large tax refund we’re getting had a lot to do with it. It’s a bit pricey buying all the equipment. I think it was knowing deep down that raw foods are healthier. The whole enzyme thing makes sense intuitively. I’ve been noticing bad effects of what we eat in my family. We eat fairly well, by conventional standards. We use sugar sparingly and try to eat our fruits and vegetables, but we overdo it on the fried stuff, and honestly, our menu could use a bit more variety. I’ve tried a couple times to plan meals by looking through the Joy of Cooking book but then I get discouraged by how much all those ingredients will cost. I also really do not like to spend a lot of time cooking and baking. I got to thinking that going raw would force us to plan our meals ahead, since there is sprouting time and dehydrating time for some of the dishes. The planning ahead could be a challenge. On the other hand, both my husband and I really like the idea of getting meals prepared ahead of time. Using a dehydrator instead of a stove or oven is very conducive to that.

A few days ago I learned that I can purchase a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) through my work. A few hundred dollars will buy us virtually unlimited produce for five and a half months. So, if we’re going to do it, next month is a good time to start. That will give me enough time to start ordering equipment. I’ve been spending a lot of time online doing the research on the various appliances and supplies I will need.

Learning about the CSA was a huge motivator. But I think the biggest thing was seeing that my toddler prefers her food raw. I never gave her commercial baby food (OK, maybe once or twice), and I’ve been careful about limiting her sugar consumption. Most of what I’ve given her has been prepared from scratch—whether it was cooked or raw. I remember reading in a couple baby books that what you give a baby early in life will shape their taste buds for the rest of their life. It was a warning to avoid giving them highly sweetened or salted food, and to also give them nutritious stuff. I think I’m seeing that in my daughter. She’s still mostly on my milk, which I’ve heard described as the ultimate raw food, and we’ve mostly given her wholesome stuff. So her taste buds haven’t adapted to the high protein, high fat, high sugar western diet. This is a good thing, and I realized I want to encourage her current food preferences, not discourage them. To give my daughter the best, I know I need to make some changes in our diet. Somehow, going raw makes sense, and we’re going to give it a try. In some ways, it’s easier to make a really radical change, because it’s like starting over, than to try to tweak our current diet. It would be too easy to fall back into the same patterns. But if we go raw, we’re making some drastic changes, and I think we’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Today I ordered a water filter. This is a good thing to have regardless of what we eat, and I’m bidding on a food processor on eBay. In the next few days I’ll be buying a dehydrator, sprouting bags, our CSA share and a few other things. I’m also looking into who will supply my nuts and sprouting seeds, and a few things I have no idea what they are: tahini, miso, nama shoyu and agar flakes. In the mean time, we’re going to try to eat up what we already have. As I write this, we are grilling chicken outside. It probably won’t be for a few weeks that we really get started. If you’re reading this, you’re catching me at the very early stages of going raw. In fact, we haven’t decided to go 100% raw at this point. We have to try it and see. I imagine we’ll eat cooked stuff once in a while and when we go to people’s houses. This isn’t about proving anything to anyone; it’s about finding the healthiest diet for my family. And right now, for various reasons, it has become very important to me that my family be as healthy as we possibly can be.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The latest on Mae Magouirk

It appears progress is being made. Mae Magouirk is pulling through despite her medical condition plus having been dehydrated for over a week, and the family seems to be starting to work things out. We'll keep a close eye on it.

HT: BlogsForTerri

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Terri Schiavo, Martyr

Cross-posted on BlogsForTerri.

Deacon Keith Fournier weighs in on Terri's death. He considers her to be a martyr, one who has lived a sacrificial life that changes the world. That her life was full of deprivation and her death brutal is undisputible. Will her life and death change the world? That is up to us.

Terri Schiavo, Martyr

By: Deacon Keith Fournier

© Third Millennium, LLC

The news out of Pinellas Park, Florida breaks the hearts of all decent people. It should shake us to the core. Terri Schiavo is dead, intentionally deprived of food and water, with the force of the raw power of government holding the hands of the executioners. She was killed deliberately, by starvation and dehydration. No Court, Legislative body or Chief Executive had the courage to stop this killing. She was deprived of her substantive due process rights by every branch of government.

Terri was not dying. She was not receiving any "extraordinary medical treatment." She was being fed and given water, as many disabled people are at this very moment, with assistance. She had trouble swallowing because she was disabled by damage to her brain. She would have lived for many, many years, bringing great joy to her family and changing the world. But now she is dead; killed by the complete abject failure of a system that has lost its soul.

The Greek word for "witness" is "martyrion". In our use of the word over all these centuries of Christian history, we have emphasized those who shed their blood for the faith. However, there is also a tradition of "white martyrs", those who live sacrificial lives that change the world. That is what Terri did. None of us will forget her smile. We all adopted her beautiful family. We now mourn her loss and share, at least a little, in their deep pain. We must also become outraged at the sheer evil of this killing and we must act.

Terri Schiavo is a martyr. She had her life taken away by the enforcers of a New Rome. Remember, the old Rome also had an elaborate system of courts and a highly developed legislative system. It prided itself on its culture, its arts and its claims to "civilization." Yet, it legally sanctioned horrors such as the practice of exposure, where children, the disabled and other "unwanted" persons were left on rocks to die by exposure to the elements or to be killed by hostile passers by. We now do the same.

The killing of Terri Schindler must mark a turning point in American history. Terri was killed while "the law" was unwilling to intervene. Her death stripped away the veneer of civility painted on the face of the current culture of death. It was a diabolical event, plain and simple. The rejection of the inherent value of every human life as a foundation of our whole understanding of ordered liberty is a clear and present danger. We face a serious risk to both life and liberty when reference to the truth is removed as the measuring stick for our behavior. Authentic freedom has been replaced by a counterfeit. The very foundation of decency is shaken.

To honor Terri, we should dedicate ourselves to the long term work of building a new society, a culture of life and civilization of love, where the dignity of every human life will be the polestar of all public policy; marriage and family will be protected as the first mediating institution and defended against those who aim to replace and eradicate them; authentic freedom will be exercised in reference to truth and within a moral constitution, and our obligations in solidarity to one another, and most especially those who have no voice, will be upheld by elected and unelected public servants.

With all the talk of the "religious influence" in America, the martyrdom of Terri Schiavo reveals the lack of a national soul. Terri was killed in a manner reminiscent of past evil regimes. I am reminded of the old adage attributed to the English Philosopher Alisdair Macintyre who, commenting on the decay in English society, once said "The Creed of the English is that there is no God but it is proper to pray to him once in a while." Without reference to the Source of unalienable rights, the One who placed the hunger for true justice within every human heart, we have become unmoored as a Nation.

Terrible injustices sometimes mark turning points in the political history of Nations. I pray that Terri’s death becomes such an event; an impetus for a new coalition for life, family, freedom and solidarity. If it does, Terri’s martyrdom will not have been in vain.


Deacon Keith Fournier is a member of the Catholic Clergy and a human rights lawyer.

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-PFL-3448, (718) 980-4400
Fax 718-980-6515

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Issues Remain in Mae Magouirk's case

Although Mae Magouirk is currently in a medical facility that can actually treat her (as opposed to a hospice center), there are still some serious issues with her case, the main one being that her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, has refused to allow Mae's family to visit her. More information is available on BlogsForTerri.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mae Magouirk Safe

Mae Magouirk was transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, where she is currently being treated for extreme dehydration and when possible, will be treated for her other medical issues, none of which are terminal nor should have warranted her being placed in hospice in the first place. The details are confusing, but they are all available on BFT. Updates will be forthcoming.

On another topic, BFT has knowledge of a disabled baby in Florida in need of adoption. The fear is that if no one steps forward to adopt the baby, he will become a ward of the state, and possibly a target for euthanasia. If you can help this baby in any way, please contact the people listed on this post. Thank you.

Friday, April 08, 2005

A Great Letter about Mae

A great letter about Mae written by Angela.

Urgent News

I don't normally send out e-mails like this, but this is a very urgent situation and we need to get the word out quickly.

A woman is dying once again by the witholding of food and water--but this time she is neither terminally ill, comatose or in a vegetative state, and she is being dehydrated AGAINST her wishes clearly stated in her living will. She needs our prayers and support.

Mae Magouirk is an 81-year-old grandma who was checked into LaGrange hospital a couple of weeks ago by her granddaughter (Beth Gaddy, a schoolteacher) with heart problems--specifically a hereditary aortic problem which both her brother and sister have also had and survived.

Mae has a living will that specifically says nutrition and hydration are *not* to be witheld unless she is in a coma or a vegetative state.

Even though she is neither---and is not terminally ill--her granddaughter falsely claimed she had durable medical power of attorney (she doesn't; she only has financial power of attorney), and decided it was time for Grandma to die. She had Mae moved to hospice and has withheld nutrition and hydration since March 28th, 2005, despite the objections of Mae's brother, sister and nephew, who are frantically fighting to save her life.

Quote from WND article: "Grandmama is old and I think it is time she went home to Jesus," Gaddy told Magouirk's brother and nephew, McLeod and Ken Mullinax. "She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?" [end quote]

Mae was lucid when she entered the hospital, but since at her granddaughter's request she has been denied food and water while being given morphine and ativan for the past 11 days, she is obviously not in very good shape by this point. She is 81 years old and even the youngest and healthiest of us couldn't survive for long in those conditions. Unfortunately, her brother, sister and nephew did not find out that she was being dehydrated until a few days ago, and she may have only hours or at most days left to try to save her.

Unfortunately, a probate judge has, despite Mae's living will and the fact that she has closer relatives who should by law be given guardianship, given the granddaughter a temporary emergency guardianship and allowed her to continue witholding treatment against Mae's clearly expressed wishes in her living will.

Mae did receive IV fluids overnight and possibly a feeding tube for a few hours (I am not certain about the food) this past weekend between the time Mae's siblings informed the hospice that her granddaughter did not really have medical power of attorney and her living will stated that she would want food and fluids in her situation, from the evening of April 30th, 2005 until a few hours later on April 1st, 2005, when Troup County, Ga., Probate Court Judge Donald W. Boyd ruled to give Gaddy emergency guardianship over her grandmother. Gaddy immediately had the tubes pulled again.

If you thought a living will would protect you, think again. This could be any one of us.

I have personally checked this out as well as I can and have determined that, unless Mae's sister, brother and nephew are blatantly lying, it is indeed true. There is really a Mae Magouirk in the hospice mentioned, although they will not give out medical information of course, and I have heard her nephew talk about the situation on the radio. Many people have checked out various details of the case and so far everything seems to be confirmed. I have left a message on the lawyer's voicemail and am waiting to hear back.

You can read the rest of the story at WorldNetDaily:

Here is a radio interview with Mae's nephew Ken Mullinax on The David Allen Show that you can listen to online:

And you can keep up with breaking news and updates on the situation at Blogs for Terri:

Please contact your local news stations, radio talk shows, and political leaders to alert them to Mae's situation. There is a list of people you can call in Georgia that might actually have the power to help Mae on the Blogs for Terri website.

Things like this happen much more frequently than we would like to think, and we can't stop them unless we get people to talk about them. If we keep quiet, we may in essence be allowing ourselves or someone we love to be killed in this way against their will at some time in the future.

We also need to ask our elected officials to pass laws to make sure that a person's food and water cannot be withdrawn so easily. Many are requesting that a law be passed preventing the withdrawl of food and water unless the patient themselves clearly requests it in written form (such as a living will) in their particular situation.

Even feeding by mouth (no tubes involved) is now by court precedent (the Carol McConnell, Nancy Cruzan and Terri Schindler Schiavo cases--in which it was specifically stated in court and, in the case of Terri, ruled by the judge in an official court order, that food and water *by mouth* should be denied) considered "medical treatment" that can be witheld on the basis of hearsay or the decision of a family member (even one who may have vested interests in the person's death), without the patient's consent or even, as in the case of Marjorie Nighbert and several others, denied food and water even while they were awake and begging for it.

You probably didn't think that things like this happened in the USA, but they do--and the law allows it or even in some cases orders it.

I have been researching and writing about these issues for the last few weeks on my blog:



GA House of Representatives and Senate

Y'all know what to do...

GA House of Reps

Roberta Abdul-Salaam
Amos Amerson
Alberta Jacqueline Anderson
Kathy Ashe
Terry E. Barnard
Mike Barnes
Tim Bearden
Sharon Beasley-Teague
Stephanie Stuckey Benfield
Tommy Benton
Ellis Black
Tom Bordeaux
Ron Borders
Ben D. Bridges, Sr.
Tyrone L. Brooks, Sr.
Jeff Brown
Roger B. Bruce
Bob Bryant
Debbie Buckner
Gail M. Buckner
Mark Burkhalter
Sue Burmeister
Jon G. Burns
Mark Butler
Charlice H. Byrd
Buddy Carter
David S. Casas
Jill Chambers
Mickey Channell
Mike Cheokas
Mike Coan
Jim Cole
Brooks P. Coleman, Jr.
Terry Coleman
Sharon Cooper
Clay Cox
Mack Crawford
Bill Cummings
Steve Davis
Burke Day
Douglas C. Dean
Tom Dickson
Ron Dodson
Matt Dollar
Karla Lea Drenner
Winfred J. Dukes
Earl Ehrhart
Terry Lamar England

Carl Von Epps
Barry A. Fleming
Hugh Floyd
Johnny Floyd
Virgil Fludd
Ronald L. Forster
Bobby Franklin
Allen G. Freeman
Pat Gardner
Harry Geisinger
Rich Golick
David B. Graves
Tom Graves
Gerald E. Greene
Bob Hanner
Ben L. Harbin
Mark Hatfield
John Wilson Heard
Keith Heard
Joe Heckstall
Bill Hembree
Michele D. Henson
Calvin Hill
Cecily A. Hill
Bob Holmes
Doug Holt
Billy Horne
Penny Houston
Henry Lee Howard
Sistie Hudson
Carolyn Fleming Hugley
Lester Jackson
Mike Jacobs
Lynmore James
Jeanette Jamieson
Charles F. Jenkins
Paul Jennings
Terry Johnson
Jan Jones
Sheila Jones
Darryl Jordan
Jerry Keen
Mike Keown
Jane Kidd
David Knight
Tom Knox
Dan Lakly
Bob Lane
Roger Bert Lane

Jeff Lewis
Edward Lindsey
Jimmy Lord
Barry Loudermilk
David E. Lucas, Sr.
John Lunsford
Gene Maddox
Randal Mangham
Judy Manning
Pedro Marin
Chuck Martin
Howard R. Maxwell
Jeff May
Tom McCall
JoAnn McClinton
John D. Meadows, III
Fran Millar
Phyllis Miller
James Mills
Billy Mitchell
Alisha Thomas Morgan
Greg Morris
Howard Mosby
Hinson Mosley
Robert F. Mumford
Jack Murphy
Quincy Murphy
Jay Neal
Mary Margaret Oliver
Larry O'Neal
Nan Grogan Orrock
Bobby Parham
Larry "Butch" Parrish
Don Parsons
DuBose Porter
Alan Powell
David Ralston
Nikki T. Randall
Robert Ray
Barbara Massey Reece
Stacey G. Reece
Bobby Clifford Reese
Tom Rice
Glenn Richardson
Jay Roberts
Carl Rogers
A. Richard Royal
Ed Rynders
Ron Sailor, Jr.

Chuck Scheid
Austin Scott
Martin Scott
Ed Setzler
Jay Shaw
Donna Sheldon
Chuck Sims

Freddie Powell Sims
Georganna T. Sinkfield
Bob Smith
Lynn Ratigan Smith
Paul E. Smith
Richard H. Smith
Tommy Smith
Vance Smith, Jr.
Calvin Smyre CONTACT
LaNett Stanley-Turner Ron Stephens
Pam Stephenson
Willie Lee Talton
Rob Teilhet
"Able" Mable Thomas
Brian W. Thomas
Steve "Thunder" Tumlin
Len Walker
Pete Warren
Stan Watson
Joe Wilkinson
Wendell Willard
"Coach" Williams
Al Williams
Roger Williams
Don Wix
John P. Yates

Contact info for Georgia Senate
Adelman, David (D-SS 42)
Balfour, Don (R-SS 09)
Brown, Robert (D-SS 26)
Bulloch, John (R-SS 11)
Butler, Gloria (D-SS 55)
Cagle, Casey (R-SS 49)
Carter, Joseph I. (R-SS 13)
Chance, Ronnie (R-SS 16)
Chapman, Jeff (R-SS 03)
Douglas, John (R-SS 17)
Fort, Vincent D (D-SS 39)
Goggans, Greg (R-SS 07)
Golden, Tim (D-SS 08)
Grant, Johnny (R-SS 25)
Hamrick, Bill (R-SS 30)
Harbison, Ed (D-SS 15)
Harp, Seth (R-SS 29)
Heath, Bill (R-SS 31)
Henson, Steve (D-SS 41)
Hill, Jack (R-SS 04)
Hill, Judson H (R-SS 32)
Hooks, George (D-SS 14)
Hudgens, Ralph T. (R-SS 47)
Johnson, Eric (R-SS 01)
Jones, Emanuel D (D-SS 10)
Kemp, Brian P (R-SS 46)
Meyer von Bremen, Michael S (D-SS
Miles, Steen (D-SS 43)
Moody, Dan (R-SS 56)
Mullis, Jeff E (R-SS 53)
Pearson, Chip (R-SS 51)
Powell, J.B. (D-SS 23)
Reed, Kasim (D-SS 35)
Rogers, Chip (R-SS 21)
Schaefer, Nancy (R-SS
Seabaugh, Mitch (R-SS 28)
Seay, Valencia (D-SS 34)
Shafer, David J. (R-SS 48)
Smith, Preston W. (R-SS 52)
Starr, Terrell (D-SS 44)
Staton, Cecil (R-SS 18)
Stephens, Bill (R-SS 27)
Stoner, Doug (D-SS 06)
Tate, Horacena (D-SS 38)
Thomas, Don R. (R-SS 54)
Thomas, Regina (D-SS 02)
Thompson, Curt (D-SS 05)
Thompson, Steve (D-SS 33)
Tolleson, Ross (R-SS 20)
Unterman, Renee S. (R-SS 45)
Walker, Charles W (D-SS 22)
Weber, Daniel J. (R-SS 40)
Whitehead , James L. (Jim) (R-SS
Wiles, John J. (R-SS 37)
Williams, Tommie (R-SS 19)
Zamarripa, Sam (D-SS 36)

Contact GA Attorney General

Sherri asked me to post this, as she is currently experiencing technical difficulties with her blog:

Ga Attorney General knew nothing of this case!

Please contact him by FAX! He has NO email address!

FAX : 404-657-8733

Please get this out!!

Helping Mae Magouirk: more cages to rattle.

Sherri has done it again. She's compiled a list of people to contact who have authority to do something about the parching and starvation of Mae Magouirk. Please take the time to let these people know how you feel about this latest government execution in progress. Politely of course.

Cross-posted on BFT.

UPDATE: More contacts available here. Be sure to check the comment section too.

More on Mae Magouirk: Here we go again...

Taken directly from BFT...

April 08, 2005
More on Mae Magouirk : Here we go again…….
Here we go again, another day, another life, another murder at the hands of the (in)justice system. Yet another case of murder by judicial fiat at yet another hospice - the hospice industry's agenda of euthanasia marches on and on! Here's a nice quick synopsis of the plight of Mae Magouirk who is being killed by her granddaughter, Beth (Michael Schiavo) Gaddy, at the order of Probate Court Judge Donald (George Greer)W. Boyd, at the Lagrange (Woodside death camp)hospice.

Lonestar via Sounding the Trumpet
The first case is always the hardest. But then, it becomes easier.

A lot of people were were mortified about the dehydration death of Terri Schiavo. We all thought it would be a while before a similar situation would arise.

Well, think again.

It’s happening RIGHT NOW in Georgia, except in a more egregious way. Mae Magouirk, an 81-year old grandmother, is not terminally ill, comatose or in a vegetative state, but she is being starved to death in a hospice. Another case of not having a "living will"? NO, wrong again. She has a living will that specifies that she not be denied food or water unless she were in a coma or vegetative state.

Mrs. Magouirk was admitted to the hospital with an aortic dissection, which was contained. Her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, asked that she be placed in hospice without hydration or food. Gaddy was quoted as saying, "Grandmama is old and I think it is time she went home to Jesus."

Gaddy, claimed to have a medical power of attorney, but only had a financial power of attorney. Once the hospice became aware of the situation, it prepared to have the feeding tube inserted. But before they could have Magouirk transported to a hospital, Gaddy obtained emergency gardianship over her grandmother from Probate Court Judge Donald W. Boyd.

There are closer living relatives, two siblings, that want to take care of Magouirk, but Gaddy will not consent.

If you thought a medical power of attorney would protect you, it seems that it is not worth the paper it’s written on in some Probate Courts. It looks like low grade euthanasia via denial of food and water to non-terminal patients, regardless of wishes, is becoming "normal".

Welcome, to this brave new world……….

cross posted at Hyscience

Keep checking BlogForTerri for more information on this one, also Straight Up With Sherri.