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March 20, 2007

Updated - My sister was given a second chance at life, and Terri deserved that same chance!

Topics: Testimonials

This post originally appeared two years ago and is being republished to mark the anniversary of the court ordered decisions that led Terri Schiavo's caregivers to stop giving her food and water.

The sister of one of our readers suffered brain damage that left her in a condition similar to that of Terri Schiavo. She writes,

I have a sister who was in the same situation as Terri Schiavo. 12 years ago my sister had a sudden cardiac arrest episode that caused major damage to her brain. Four days into her coma we were told by doctors that Kim was in a persistent vegetative state and that we should unplug her ventilator. If she made it through the night we were told to make arrangements to put her in a nursing home. My parents decided not to follow the recommendations of the doctors and to instead transfer her to a rehabilitation hospital. Kim was dependent on both a feeding tube and a ventilator. Through intensive occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy which included teaching her to swallow again, she made a wonderful recovery. Though she is still physically challenged and in a wheel chair, she is very much a productive member of society. She is living at home with my parents who are her care givers. She votes in elections and loves to debate the issues. My sister was given a second chance at life, and Terri deserves that same chance!
Please note that Kim was in a worse condition than Terri. Kim was on a ventilator while Terri is not.

Update: I emailed K, the author the text above, and asked for more information. Here is her response:

We have video footage of Kim from 1993 when she was in the midst of her very intensive, daily therapies. If you could see the footage, which has been broadcasted on the news by WGAL-8 and Fox-43, you would be eerily amazed at how similar Kim was to Terri Schiavo.

Yes, we were told by neurologists at Lancaster Community Hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that Kim was in a PVS (persistent vegetative state). When they told my family to turn off the ventilator because she was never going to recover, we told them that they had forgotten one very important factor, God! We knew that Kim was in there, desperately wanting us to do anything possible to help her, which was the basis for putting her into therapy. Shortly after that meeting we transferred Kim to the Rehabilitation unit at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey Pennsylvania. Kim was only able to breath on her own for short periods of time; she was completely dependent on a feeding tube for nourishment and hydration. She was actually worse than Terri in that she was not able to track objects with her eyes and seemed to stare off into space. Kim was absolutely unresponsive. The deep coma lasted for 6-8 weeks. After that time period she was still considered to be in a coma because she was unable to communicate and was in state of agitation. She would kick her legs and seemed to moan and cry all the time. The only things that would seemingly comfort her was taking walks outside on the hospital grounds and listening to Kenny G. Kim was not able to swallow until she was taught again how to do so in speech therapy.

Kim was in Hershey Medical Center from May-August 1993. However, her recovery did not end there. She only recently stopped therapies in June of 2004 and we are hoping to begin therapies again this summer. The recovery period continues even now. She certainly remembers the long and extremely difficult road to her recovery. She is grateful to have had the chance for such a recovery. She knows that had it not been for the daily occupational, physical and speech therapies in which she was provided that she would not be the woman that she is today. While she physically challenged and in a wheelchair to this day, she has a happy life. She enjoys many activities like scrap booking, going to the theatre and spending time with friends and family.

My recommendation for others in a similar situation is to never stop fighting. We would not do anything differently!! If we had done to Kim what others are trying to do to Terri, we would be visiting her at the cemetery, not enjoying life together. Terri, and others like her, deserve the same opportunities!

Source: comment on bLogicus

Posted by tim at March 20, 2007 6:56 AM

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