Tycoon offers husband of coma woman $1m to reject euthanasia

The bitter battle over the fate of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who has been in a coma for 15 years, took an unexpected turn yesterday when a businessman from California offered $1m (£550,000) to her husband if he would change his mind about unplugging her from life support as early as next week.

The intervention by Robert Herring, who founded an electronics company and a satellite television business, is only the most recent twist in a struggle over the fate of Mrs Schiavo that has lasted seven years. On Thursday a Florida judge rejected a request by the state's social services agency for a 60-day delay before the removal of the woman's feeding tube, due next Friday.

As Mrs Schiavo lies in her hospital bed in Tampa in what doctors describe as a persistent vegetative state, her relatives continue to fight in the courts over her condition. On one side is her husband, Michael Schiavo, who wants her removed from life support and on the other her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are trying to stop that.

Directly involved in what has become America's most high-profile, right-to-die dispute is Florida's Governor, Jeb Bush, who has sided with the parents in arguing that their daughter should be kept alive, in spite of the unlikelihood she will recover consciousness.

A resident of San Diego, Mr Herring has set a Monday deadline for Mr Schiavo to accept the million dollars in cash, offered on condition that he hand over all responsibility for his wife's future care to her parents. He said he felt "compelled to act" as the day for the unplugging of Mrs Schiavo approaches.

"I believe very strongly there are medical advances happening around the globe that very shortly could have a positive impact on Terri's condition," he said. "I have seen miraculous recoveries occur through the use of stem cells in patients suffering a variety of conditions."

A lawyer for Mr Herring, Gloria Allred, said he "thinks there might be hope for Terri Schiavo and wonders why there is a rush to death, especially in view of the advances being made in medical research. He feels that he couldn't live with himself if he didn't make this offer".

Judge Paul Greer in Tampa had just rejected the request from the social services agency to delay action on unplugging Mrs Schiavo for two months to allow for an investigation into allegations of cruelty and negligence on his part.

Governor Bush reacted angrily to the ruling, saying he could not understand how the agency could be turned down. "There's a law that says if the hot-line is called and there's a warranted need for an investigation that there ought be an investigation."

Judge Greer said that the allegations of negligence had already been proved to be false. Governor Bush pushed a new law in 2003 that authorised him to force the hospital to resume feeding of Mrs Schiavo six days after her feeding-tube had been removed. The law was later ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

Mrs Schiavo has been in a non-responsive state since 1990 when she slipped into unconsciousness because of chemical imbalance in her brain that may have been triggered by an eating disorder. Her husband insists she once said to him that in such a circumstance she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

There was no word last night from Mr Schiavo, who faces an extraordinary dilemma. If he takes the money, he must give up the quest he has followed for years to allow his wife to die. But if he refuses it, the courts could again intervene to frustrate his wishes.

Two cases are still being pursued by his wife's parents before the state's Court of Appeals that has promised to issue its rulings next week. The couple also still hope for new laws to help them from the state legislature and the US Congress.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions