Interview with Dr. Michael Baden, a Forensic Pathologist from NY


Greta: Dr. Baden, a potassium imbalance, letís first talk about if you have a potassium deficiency, can that cause the condition that Terri Schiavo has?

Baden: Um, can, but unlikely. Potassium is very interesting. Itís probably the most lethal poison we have when itís injected rapidly, and thatís why itís the poison that kills people, capital punishment by lethal injection. And it stops the heart from beating properly ó too much of it. But also too little of it., hypo-potassium, can also cause the heart to stop beating properly and lead to lack of blood flow to the brain and death of brain cells by lack of oxygen. But thatís very unusual, Greta, extremely unusual.

Greta: A normal healthy woman, I assume, would have no reason, for instance, to take potassium supplements unless, perhaps, sheís on a diuretic or some other medication that would cause a potassium depletion. Is that right?

Baden: Thatís correct. Thatís right.

Greta: Is there any explanation then in your mind, and I realize you were not her team physician, but why would a woman at her age have a potassium imbalance?

Baden: Extremely unusual unless she had certain kinds of diseases, which she doesnít have. She was in her twenties. The reason that sheís in the state sheís in is because there was a period of time, maybe 5 minutes or 8 minutes, when not enough oxygen was going to her brain. That can happen because the heart stops for 5 or 8 minutes, but she had a healthy heart, from what we can see. The other thing, though. . . Iím sorry Greta?

Greta: No, go ahead.

Baden: Yeah, your staff has provided me with a bone scan that you guys obtained ah from her initial admission in 1991 to the hospital. And that bone scan describes her as having a head injury. Thatís why sheís there, thatís why sheís getting a bone scan. And a head injury can cause, lead to the vegetative state that Ms. Schiavo is in now, and it does show evidence that there are other injuries, other bone fractures, that on healing-stage, so that....

Greta: So, let me back up a second. Head injury. Could she have had, could she have passed out from a potassium imbalance causing a falling head injury? Is that what youíre talking about, or are you suggesting some pre-existing head injury to her passing out?

Baden: Something totally different. That itís extremely rare for a 20-year-old to have a cardiac arrest from low potassium who has no other diseases. So the other issue is could it have been due to some other cause, which is raised by the family, has to be looked at.

Greta: Alright, other injuries and bone injuries, what does that suggest to you?

Baden: Some kind of trauma. The trauma can be from an auto accident, the trauma can be from a fall, or the trauma can be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. Itís something that should have been investigated in 1991 when these findings were found, andÖ.

Greta: They were fresh.

Baden: Maybe there were, Maybe they were investigated by police at that time.

Greta: Alright. Dr. Michael Baden, thank you.

Baden: Thank you, Greta.

[end transcript]


Forensic Pathologist Michael Baden and Former FBI Agent Candice DeLong Headline Forensic Focus 2003  



Famed Forensic Pathologist Michael Baden and Former FBI Agent Candice DeLong Headline Forensic Focus 2003


Michael Baden, MD, a familiar face on cable news networks, has conducted more than 20,000 autopsies in his career spanning more than four decades.

Baden frequently serves as investigator and expert witness in high-profile forensic cases. Past cases have included the murders of Chandra Levy, JonBenet Ramsey, Nicole Brown Simpson and Sunny von Bulow.

Baden has served on the Congressional Select Committee on Assassinations, which conducted a reopened investigation of the John F. Kennedy killing. He was New York City medical examiner from 1960 to 1985 and currently serves as co-director of the Medicolegal Investigative Unit of the New York State Police.

Baden is also the author of "Unnatural Death: Confessions of a Medical Examiner" (1989) and "Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers" (2001), and host of the HBO series "Autopsy."  [end bio]