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March 9, 2007

Christa Lilly Awoke

Topics: The Truth About PVS

Following our prior article, here's more information on the woman who was/is in a "vegetative state":

A woman who has been in a coma-like state for more than six years awoke for three days this week to talk with family members and eat her favorite foods before relapsing.

"She was smiling and grinning and told my staff she wanted to go to a club, even doing a little chair dance in her wheelchair," said one of her doctors, Randall Bjork.

The woman, Christa Lilly, 49, suffered a cardiac arrest in November 2000. Since then, her mother, Minnie Smith, has been caring for her at home. Ms. Smith said Ms. Lilly had awakened five times, sometimes for hours, then for days.

"We may have to rethink these people that have been called vegetative in nursing homes who may have some awareness of their horrible circumstances," said Dr. Bjork. "It goes against the grain of what we thought."

Ms. Lilly, who has four daughters, including a 12-year-old, and three grandchildren, awakens without warning. On Sunday her mother, 74, said the same thing to her that she does every day, "Hi, baby; how you doing?" And this time Ms. Lilly replied, "I'm fine."

Although Ms. Lilly is fed through a tube when not awake, Ms. Smith said she took her daughter out for her favorite foods this week -- catfish, hush puppies, cake and ice cream.

Here's the kicker:
Dr. Bjork said that he had been skeptical of Ms. Smith's previous reports of her daughter's waking states, but that he was now a believer. He said Ms. Lilly was in a "minimally conscious state" rather than a persistent vegetative state.
The doctor was skeptical - why? Because Lilly was in a vegetative state and there were reports to the contrary. She's now been reclassified which means that either she was never PVS or she was and now is not. Since this designation is ambiguous, subjective and has been contradicted on numerous occasions, it is hard to believe that any doctor or judge would find the "diagnosis credible" and allow guardians to withdraw food and water. However, this is exactly what happened in the case of Terri Schiavo and Haleigh Poutre. Terri was dehydrated to death while Haleigh woke up before doctors could do the same to her.

Wesley Smith comments,

Lilly's moral worth and intrinsic value as a human being--a sister of all humanity--does not depend on her ability to interact. Would that more of us could find it within ourselves to love the most helpless among us unconditionally rather than set marginalizing parameters which, in effect, throw them out of the moral community.

Posted by tim at March 9, 2007 12:50 AM

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Dearest Tim,

Thank you so much for keeping us abreast of all the things happening in the arena of PVS diagnosis, especially as the time of year is coming around when we remember Terri.

With Love,


Posted by: Juleni at March 12, 2007 1:24 PM