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Breakthrough Rewrites Medical Textbooks

ve8QAd   |   November 15, 2012

End-of-life care is a difficult but necessary issue to discuss with your loved ones. Now, because of Obamacare, the need to address this topic is more urgent than ever. As a member of the board of directors for the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, I know firsthand what battles take place between family members. Tragedy can strike at any time and you need to be as prepared as possible. I can’t stress this enough.

First, let me say that we should never refer to a human person as being in a “persistent vegetative state.” It’s insulting and dehumanizing to call people—regardless of their mental capabilities—vegetables. Now for the exciting news.

A recent case in Canada has provided a scientific breakthrough that one of his doctors said would require the rewriting of medical textbooks. Further, it will affirm the rights of profoundly disabled patients and provide them with much better care.

Scott Routley is a 39 year-old man who suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident 12 years ago. His doctors believed his physical assessments showed no signs of awareness or ability to communicate. Yet, his parents continued to state that they believed he was able to communicate by lifting a thumb or moving his eyes. This wasn’t enough to convince the medical staff. Thankfully, Scott benefited from a relatively new technology called fMRI.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), according to, uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and other internal parts of the body. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a relatively new procedure that uses MR imaging to measure the tiny metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain.

Scott’s brain activity was scanned via fMRI as he was asked a series of questions. The evidence showed his brain produced a pattern, clearly demonstrating that he was responsive. Neuroscientists said they were able to show that Scott has a conscious, thinking mind.

One of the researchers said, “In the future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simply things like the entertainment we provide or the times of day they are washed and fed.”

Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, said, “This new finding will hopefully save lives, as we are repeatedly seeing an increasing number of people incorrectly diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.”

This technology is certainly an answer to prayer for current and future patients. But how many others have suffered or been killed through euthanasia because it was deemed they didn’t meet “quality of life” standards? This is reminiscent of Terri Schiavo’s case where her parents and family knew Terri was trying to communicate. They argued in court—unsuccessfully—to allow similart tests to be performed on her.

What are family members to do when the medical staff entrusted with their care won’t recognize the value of life? The first thing you can do is to prepare yourself. Don’t leave these critical care decisions to chance. Don’t assume your loved ones know your wishes. Start by educating yourself—here’s how:

  • Watch our TV program, Facing Life Head-On, as we share the inspiring stories of Terri and others like her.
  • Visit our webpage on the topic of euthanasia for a variety of resources including videos and PDFs.
  • Complete a Durable Power of Attorney (Will to Live) to protect your own life and the lives of your family members when you’re not able to speak for yourself.

Yes, we suffered a big setback this week, but we know we can lean on the One who controls everything. Psalm 46:1-3 says it well, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

The time to rewrite the medical textbooks in favor of life is long overdue. Join with me in protecting all innocent human life from the beginning of their biological life at fertilization until natural death.

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