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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Clarifications on Maria Korp

A few things to clarify: 1. She was out of intensive care by February 2005. 2. She could breathe unaided by May 2005. These two developments within this year points to recovery, not deterioration as the public advocate, Mr. Gardner, claims. I also note crucial lapses in this report from Seven News and in this report from The Age. Cursory reading of those reports will give you the impression that death is imminent in two weeks or so, although the doctors supposedly give an escape clause of sorts ("it's difficult to be precise"). Actually, both reports failed to clarify that the two-week estimate begins after food and water are withdrawn, based on what Mr. Gardner actually does say in this ABC News interview:
 "ALISON CALDWELL: Now, her doctor has said previously that she could die within three weeks if she doesn't have food and water. Is that your understanding? JULIAN GARDNER: The medical advice is that it's difficult to be precise, but that it may be one to two weeks."
What does that mean? She is not dying. I don't know who was playing word games here but clearly some confusion has been sown concerning this and it should be clarified. Particularly since there was never any mention of what is killing Mrs. Korp. They did not even mention physical brain injuries apart from the lack of oxygen for a prolonged period of time. Nothing like those CT scans of Terri Schiavo showing physical brain tissue damage. No, I'm not really into invading Mrs. Korp's privacy to the point where medical records must be made public. But if she truly is dying, why have they never mentioned any specific deterioration? Especially considering that she got out of intensive care just five months ago and she got out of respirator assitance just two months ago. It also pays to state flat out that Mr. Julian Gardner is wrong in saying that his decision is consistent with Catholic teachings. Dead wrong because food and water do not constitute extra-ordinary or artificial life support, even when given artificially via a feeding tube. I'm also wondering out loud why nobody has noticed that there appears to be no medical finding of brain death. Mr. Gardner never mentioned it in this interview which would have been a good opportunity to say so. Permanent vegetative state (PVS)? Note that:
 "But National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines, introduced in December 2003, say patients in a persistent vegetative state -- such as Mrs Korp -- should be monitored for 12 months."
Source: Herald Sun This case is far from easy to dismiss. Update: this Herald Sun report cites a 2003 ruling by "Justice Stuart Morris ruled that artificial feeding of a terminally ill woman was medical treatment that could be legally withdrawn." Same thing that they did in Florida. We must take note of this: such legislation is crucial for pro-euthanasia lobbyists. Opposing legislation must be enacted in states where there is yet no such legislation that classifies food and water, artificially given, as medical treatment or extra-ordinary care.


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Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff,

This is Lydia from over at Blogs for Terri.

There's a simple reason why they didn't mention anything about "brain death." She cannot possibly be brain dead if she breathes on her own. It's impossible. By definition, "brain death" requires cessation of brain stem function, so no brain dead person can breathe on his own. Many people don't know this. PVS actually has nothing whatever to do with brain death.

Obviously they just found some person who says he's Catholic and an ethicist to say what they wanted to hear so they could say they had "not made the decision lightly." But lightly is exactly how they made the decision. They aren't even bothering to claim that she expressed a desire for this. Just that it's in her "best interests." Well, isn't that nice?

Lydia said...

Jeff, one other thing I've found out. In that 2003 case, guess who it was that went to court for permission to stop tube feeding on a different woman, a woman who had lived _three years_ in a nursing home on a feeding tube (hence, was also not dying)? It was Julian Gardner, the same Public Advocate who has just ordered Maria's tube feedings stopped.

I think that should put a stop to all the talk about "trusting the Public Advocate"--not from you, but in a number of articles I've seen.