Terri Schiavo Sentenced to Slow, Painful Death
--American Life League press release
The moment her feeding tube is removed, Terri Schiavo will begin a long, slow, painful death by starvation and dehydration.
--Operation Rescue Web site
Death by dehydration is a painful, agonizing and arduous process that takes 10 to 14 days. Compared to starvation and dehydration, death by hanging, firing squad or even electric chair seem humane.
--Congressman Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) on the House floor Thursday
... the brain-damaged woman's physical response to having her feeding tube removed is likely to be very serene.
"The process of starving to death seems very barbaric but in actuality is very peaceful," said Dr. Fred Mirarchi, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.
"The patient's experience is really pretty benign," said Dr. Joanne Lynn, a hospice physician associated with Americans for Better Care of the Dying, a group working for improved end-of-life care. "Overwhelmingly, what will happen is nothing."
... the fact that Schiavo is in a vegetative state will likely make her death faster and less painful, Lynn said.
...Most patients who cannot eat or drink will enter a physical state known as ketosis. During ketosis the body begins to use fat and muscle as a fuel source.
In advanced cases of ketosis, the nervous system response is dulled, and patients rarely feel pain, hunger or thirst. There is also some evidence that ketosis can produce a state of well-being or mild euphoria.
...Over time, the patient will become more and more dehydrated and will eventually develop kidney failure, Mirarchi explained.
"Patients at this point are uremic -- filled with bodily toxins -- and are unaware of their surroundings," Mirarchi said.
...In the final moments of life, the abnormalities in the patient's heart rate known as arrhythmia are common.
"The heart will then stop and the patient will die," said Mirarchi.