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
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
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

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'