One of the neurologists, Dr. William Hammesfahr who examined Terri weighs in on the autopsy report addressing some of the same things about which I have raised questions: (HT Empire Journal)
The noted neurologist said he had had a chance to look at neuropathologist Dr. Stephen Nelson’s analysis of the brain tissue. Nelson of Winter Haven is the District 10 medical examiner â€œThe autopsy results confirmed my opinion and Dr. William Maxfield’s opinions, that the frontal areas of the brains, the areas that deal with awareness and cognition were relatively intact. To use Dr. Nelson’s words, “relatively preserved.” In fact, the relay areas from the frontal and front temporal regions of the brain, to the spinal cord and the brain stem, by way of the basal ganglia, were preserved, thus the evident responses which she was able to express to her family and to the clinicians seeing her or viewing her videotape. The Spect scan confirmed these areas were functional and not scar tissue, and that was apparently also confirmed on Dr. Nelson’s review of the slides. Dr. Maxfield’s estimates of retained brain weight were apparently accurate, although there may have been some loss of brain weight due to the last two weeks of dehydrationâ€.
In my last post, I mentioned blogger Dr. Rangel who has different thoughts and one of my commenters Brain Doc. Both make contrary aguments worth reading. I have two thoughts about this.
One, why is the press not asking hard questions about this? I simply don’t understand the lack of professional curiosity on its part.
Two, it is apparent that physicians can’t even agree on the autopsy results or the clinical diagnosis. Terri was not a machine after all. When a machine has missing parts that can’t be replaced–it’s ultimately and finally broken and unusable. With a machine–one can be sure about just how broken it is–not so with a human.
Judge Greer was using the same kind of legal judgment that a judge would use when faced with repeated requests for looking at other testimony or diagnostic testing a machine that is the subject of a products liability suit and is alleged to be defective. Of course, at some point a judge would say no in the case of a machine–enough is enough. And, at some point a Judge would stop everything and make a final decision about the allegedly defective machine.
This reasoning was inappropriate in the case of Terri. We are not machines.
Update: Pro-life blogs has this story as well and quotes the Doctor as saying:
Dr. Maxfield and myself both emphasized that she was a woman trapped in her body, similar to a child with cerebral palsy, and that was born out by the autopsy, showing greater injury in the motor and visual centers of the brain. Obviously, the pathologists comments that she could not see were not borne out by reality, and thus his assessment must represent sampling error. The videotapes clearly showed her seeing, and even Dr. Cranfoed, for the husband, commented to her that, when she could see the balloon, she could follow it with her eyes as per his request.
The sampling issue is interesting and I intend to address it later.