PINELLAS COUNTY, Florida, June 17, 2005 ( – Results of an autopsy performed on Terri Schiavo, released Wednesday, revealed that she could have lived “at least” another 10 years, according to Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner Jon Thogmartin.

“Terri was not terminal,” Terri Schiavo’s family emphasized in a statement to the media. “The medical examiner said with proper care Terri would have lived at least another 10 years even in her disabled condition.”

“Terri’s case was NOT an end-of-life case,” the Schindler’s added. “Terri’s case was about ending a disabled person’s life.” The Schindler’s explained that, “First, Thogmartin’s report confirms Terri’s physical condition and disability . . . This is nothing new.” They emphasized that the medical examiner’s “report also confirms that TERRI WAS NOT TERMINAL, THAT TERRI HAD NO LIVING WILL, THAT TERRI HAD A STRONG HEART, and THAT TERRI WAS BRUTALLY DEHYDRATED TO DEATH.” (Emphasis theirs.)

“Second, our family would encourage the media to remember that this case was allegedly about ‘Terri’s choice,’” the Schindler’s continued. “There is absolutely no evidence that Terri wanted to die of dehydration, or that she believed that that the level of one’s disability gives anyone the moral and legal right to end another’s life.”

“Third, the medical examiner said clearly that dehydration, not her brain injury, was the cause of her death. Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes. The moral shame of what happened is not erased because of Terri’s level of disability. No one would say that ‘blind people’ or ‘brain-injured’ people should be put to death. That would be an irresponsible and heartless position to take. Tragically, that is what happened to Terri. As a society, it seems that we have lost our compassion for the disabled.”

In addition, the medical examiner confirmed that Terri was brain-injured. “This does NOT mean that she was brain-dead,” the Schindler’s added. “Many seem to not understand this absolutely critical distinction. The medical examiner clearly stated that persistent vegetative state is a clinical diagnosis made on a living patient. That is something a medical examiner cannot do by looking at a corpse. Dr. William Cheshire, a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic, agreed with our family’s perception that Terri was awake, aware, and at least minimally cognitive. The medical examiner stated that no conclusive medical studies have been done on what a minimally conscious state brain should look like as opposed to a persistent vegetative state brain in an autopsy.”

According to the autopsy, Terri had a strong heart. “The medical examiner essentially ruled out bulimia and heart attack as causes for Terri’s condition,” the Schindler’s continued. “In one sense the medical examiner’s report created as many questions as it may have answered. The major question for our family that now remains is what happened?” The lack of evidence of heart disease as claimed by Terri’s estranged husband Michael is particularly troubling, as he won a massive payout in medical malpractice suits based on this claim.

The Schindler’s aren’t the only ones questioning the discrepancy between Michael Schiavo’s admission that Terri collapsed at 4:30 a.m. and that paramedics did not arrive on the scene until 5:52 a.m. – Florida Governor Jeb Bush has decided to open an investigation into the discrepancy after talking to Dr., Thogmartin privately before he released the autopsy findings, revealing that he could not find any reason for Schiavo’s collapse in 1990. “What he did say to me that was troubling . . . was that there was some doubt about when she collapsed and how long it took for a phone call to be made to 911,” Bush said, as reported by the AP. “I think that is worthy of some investigation.”

Right-to-die campaigner, attorney George Felos reacted, saying, “The extent to which [Bush] will prostitute himself to right-wing constituents for his future political gain I think is just pitiful.”

“Our family would encourage Michael Schiavo to do the right thing and return the funds that were paid by the innocent doctors who were sued for Terri’s collapse,” the Schindler’s said in their release.

“No mother and father should have to watch their child that they love more than life itself, be dehydrated and starved before their eyes,” the Schindler’s concluded. “Civilized societies should not tolerate such barbaric acts.”

See the Schindler’s statement:

See local coverage of Gov. Bush’s investigation: