How little we know

As you may recall, I thought it was a mistake to stave and dehydrate Terri Schiavo to death.  We know so little about the human brain and, as long as her parents were cheerfully willing to care for her, I thought it was out and out murder to bar them from providing that care.

It’s been a long time since Terri Schiavo died, but I thought of her when I read a story in the L.A. Times about Samantha Palumbo, a 16 year old girl who lost almost her entire left frontal lobe in a car accident.  As good as dead you’d think, right?  Wrong.  Read the story and then look at and listen to the photo essay.  If, at the end, you’re not tremendously moved and awed by the human capacity to recover, you’d better read and listen again, because you missed something.

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Comments

  1. says

    I err on the side of life in such cases precisely because I know that once you kill a person, he doesn’t come back. In fact, that’s one of the benefits to killing a person, any person, and is one of the reasons I support the death penalty.

    Justice would be a poor and mangled creature should we seek to exterminate those amongst us that have done no wrong while attempting to keep alive the enemies of humanity. But that is precisely what the Left wants, and that is precisely why they cannot be allowed to have what they want, regardless of what arguments people make.

  2. says

    What they did to Terri Schiavo was murder. We know SO little about the brain and its capabilities. Check out this story from “al-Reuters”:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN0135742320070801?feedType=RSS&rpc=22&sp=true

    Device wakes man with severe brain injuries
    Wed Aug 1, 2007 5:47PM EDT
    By Julie Steenhuysen

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – A man with severe brain injuries who spent six years in a near-vegetative state can now chew his food, watch a movie and talk with family thanks to a brain pacemaker that may change the way such patients are treated, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

    The 38-year-old man is the first person in a minimally conscious state to be treated with deep-brain stimulation, a treatment that uses a pacemaker and two electrodes to send impulses into a part of the brain regulating consciousness.

  3. says

    And here is another way the “vegetative” are being brought back….imagine your feelings if you were Terri Schiavo’s parents.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,1870279,00.html

    We have always been told there is no recovery from persistent vegetative state – doctors can only make a sufferer’s last days as painless as possible. But is that really the truth? Across three continents, severely brain-damaged patients are awake and talking after taking … a sleeping pill. And no one is more baffled than the GP who made the breakthrough. Steve Boggan witnesses these ‘strange and wonderful’ rebirths

    Tuesday September 12, 2006
    The Guardian

    For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, “Hello.” Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.

    Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as “a cabbage”, greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.

    Across the Atlantic in the United States, George Melendez, who is also brain-damaged, has lain twitching and moaning as if in agony for years, causing his parents unbearable grief. He, too, is given this little tablet and again, it’s as if a light comes on. His father asks him if he is, indeed, in pain. “No,” George smiles, and his family burst into tears.

    It all sounds miraculous, you might think. And in a way, it is. But this is not a miracle medication, the result of groundbreaking neurological research. Instead, these awakenings have come as the result of an accidental discovery by a dedicated – and bewildered – GP. They have all woken up, paradoxically, after being given a commonly used sleeping pill.

  4. says

    Yet a different situation, but again, a “vegetable” turns out to be human after all!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5320234.stm

    Vegetative patient ‘communicates’

    A UK/Belgium team studied a 23-year-old woman who had suffered a severe brain injury in a road accident, which left her apparently unable to communicate.

    By scanning her brain, they discovered she could understand spoken commands and even imagine playing tennis….

    When the scientists compared her brain activity to that of healthy patients, who had been asked to carry out the same task, they discovered the patterns were “indistinguishable”.

  5. says

    Earl’s got that inductive thing going on, so I’ll complete it with my deductive analysis.

    Whenever you have the Left telling people that you or some other group of people need to die, such as Vietnam, for so and so, then you know you got a problem.

  6. Mike Devx says

    The L.A. times story Book linked to – if you haven’t read it, indeed you should! – is convincing, and so are Earl’s accounts. These are stunning stories indeed.

    We should always err on the side of life, where there is any question.

    The legal questions are thorny concerning who controls care. I can agree that artificial respiration can be stopped; but the forced withdrawal of IV care on any invalid, and the subsequent deliberate starvation and death that occurs, is something we need not support.

    This has also shaken my absolute conviction that the death penalty is right. Perhaps, if I were guaranteed that those sentenced to death would instead never be paroled, and were granted solely minimal creature comforts, perhaps I might change my mind.

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