A world-renowned forensic pathologist with over 40 years experience as a medical examiner is challenging the official version of early events in the Terri-Schindler Schiavo case, providing the parents of the brain-disabled woman with powerful ammunition in their battle to save their daughter’s life from her court-ordered starvation death.
Interviewed on the Fox News Channel, Dr. Michael Baden, co-director of the Investigative Unit of New York State Police in Albany and former chief medical examiner for New York City, ruled out potassium imbalance and a heart attack as factors in Terri’s mysterious collapse 13 years ago – which left her severely incapacitated and unable to speak – and pointed to head trauma and bone injuries as a more likely cause.
Baden explained to host Greta van Susteren it was unlikely for a woman of Terri’s age at the time to have a potassium imbalance, unless she had certain types of diseases, which she didn’t have.
“Too little potassium can cause the heart to stop beating properly and lead to lack of blood flow to the brain and death of brain cells by lack of oxygen, but that’s very unusual, Greta, extremely unusual,” he said.
That Terri’s heart was healthy would rule out the likelihood of cardiac arrest, he said.
“The reason she’s in the state she’s in is because there was a period of time, maybe five minutes or eight minutes, when not enough oxygen was going to her brain,” said Baden. “That can happen because the heart stops for 5 or 8 minutes, but she had a healthy heart, from what we can see.”
Baden said he studied a bone scan made in March 1991 at a rehabilitation facility that describes her as having a head injury: “That’s why she’s there, that’s why she’s getting a bone scan.”
“A head injury can cause, can lead to the vegetative state that Ms. Schiavo is in now,” he continued, adding the scan showed evidence of other injuries, bone fractures.
Something totally different
Van Susteren asked if he were suggesting a potassium imbalance caused a fall that led to a head injury, or perhaps some “pre-existing head injury [led] to her passing out.”
“Something totally different,” he answered. Because cardiac arrests triggered by low potassium are so rare, “the other issue is: Could it have been due to some other cause, which is raised by the family. [That] has to be looked at.”
Baden said the injuries were caused by some kind of trauma. “The trauma can be from an auto accident, the trauma can be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It’s something that should have been investigated in 1991 when those findings were fresh,” and added, “Maybe they were. Maybe they were investigated by the police at that time.”
As far as Terri’s family knows, they were not.
In fact, her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, knew nothing of the existence of the bone scan until their attorney Patricia Anderson was collecting evidence for a hearing scheduled for October 2002. Prior to that time, Terri’s medical records had been kept sealed under court order at the request of her husband, Michael Schiavo, who had launched his crusade to remove his wife’s feeding tube.
As WorldNetDaily reported last November, when the scan was discovered through sifting Terri’s early medical records, Anderson checked with several physicians as to its significance and filed an emergency motion to have Schiavo removed as guardian. Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, denounced the motion as “garbage” and characterized it as being “rife with unattributed hearsay, rank innuendo and libel.”
Nonetheless, the scan and other documentation are so compelling it was decided to make the possibility of foul play a large part of the petition on the terrisfight.org website, that people from around the world signed and e-mailed to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, urging him to launch a full-scale investigation.
“The suspicions that Dr. Baden raised on Fox News are suspicions that the family members have had since learning of Terri’s bone scan last November,” said Pamela Hennessey, spokesperson for the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation. “And we’ve been making it known for many months on the website.”
“We felt the evidence was so strong that we included the information in the petition to the governor which over 165,000 people have signed,” she said. “I’m happy to see someone like Dr. Baden is taking a hard look at this, and I hope his coming forward encourages the governor to look into this. I believe the governor should go full force in ordering an investigation into Terri’s collapse and into allegations of abuse over the past 13 years.”
The Fox News interview with Michael Baden and information on Terri’s fight for life are posted on the family’s website.