Terri Schiavo is not brain dead as far as anyone can tell. If you are brain dead, you have suffered an irreversible loss of all functions of the brain. If agreed to by at least two physicians, that means you are legally dead, such that your organs can be harvested to help other people.
Instead, Ms. Schiavo is in what many physicians call a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS). That means that she lacks an awareness of her self or other people, cannot engage in purposeful action, does not understand language, is incontinent, and sleeps a lot. To be clinically classified as being in a PVS, these conditions should be irreversible. But from what we know, some doctors dispute one or more of these conditions and believe that it is possible that whatever her symptoms, they are not irreversible.
Read the entire article on the Wall Street Journal website (new window will open).