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Transcript: Dr. Ronald Cranford Talks With Hannity & Colmes

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Mar. 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The clock is ticking for Terri Schiavo. It's been four days since the brain damaged woman's feeding tube was removed. Doctors continue to debate whether or not she could be rehabilitated. Is there any chance she could make a full recovery?

Joining us now is Dr. Ronald Cranford, a neurologist and ethicists at Henapin County Medical Center. He examined Terri Schiavo and testified on behalf of her husband, Michael.

Dr. Cranford, thank you for being with us.

DR. RONALD CRANFORD, NEUROLOGIST AND ETHICIST: You're welcome.

COLMES: Appreciate it. Last night we had on Bill Hammesfahr, another doctor, claiming to be a Nobel Prize nominee, who examined her, and here is what he had to say about you. I want to get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BILL HAMMESFAHR, EXAMINED TERRI SCHIAVO: Well, I think you need to go and look at the videotape of Dr. Cranford. And Dr. Cranford's videotape compliments Terri on following commands. And one point, he moves a balloon around in front of her and he again compliments her when she is able to see it that she can follow commands.

And I also think that you need to look a little bit closer. Dr. Cranford's work has been attacked by other medical professionals in peer-reviewed journals such "Lancet".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: What do you say to Dr. Hammesfahr, who had that to say last night?

CRANFORD: Well, first of all, there have been eight neurologists that have examined Terri over the years, from 1990 to 19 — 2002. There were four attending neurologists caring for Terri Schiavo who all said she was in a persistent vegetative state.

At the evidentiary hearing in 2002, which was the longest evidentiary hearing on a medical condition on a right-to-die case ever, six days, there were three neurologists, including myself, who said she was in a persistent vegetative state. And there's only one doctor who said she was not in a vegetative state, and that's Dr. Hammesfahr.

And the judge discredited everything he said. So I think the record is very clear that seven out of eight neurologists who have seen her said she was in a persistent vegetative state and that is what the court found after reviewing all of the tapes and the Court of Appeals reviewed all of the expert testimony and they said she was in a vegetative state. So I think we stand on the record.

The fact is that when I did the tape, she did look at the — she did look at the balloon for a few seconds. I was talking to her like I normally do with any patient...

HANNITY: Dr. Cranford, it's Sean Hannity. Isn't it true you only examined her once for 45 minutes, sir?

CRANFORD: Yes.

HANNITY: OK. Because the attorney for the family has affidavits, sir, from 33 different medical personnel that have very different opinions than yours, sir. And the British Medical Journal in 1996 found out that 43 percent of the times patients in permanent vegetative states are often misdiagnosed.

Isn't it a possibility — wouldn't we be better served by having a couple of more definitive opinions before she dies, sir?

CRANFORD: This is the longest evidentiary hearing and the longest right to die case in the history of American law. She has a CAT SCAN...

HANNITY: So then, a few more weeks wouldn't really matter, would it? A few more months wouldn't really matter if that's what it takes to know one thousand percent for sure, considering this ambiguity, wouldn't it be in the best interest of justice, sir, to wait until we knew, definitively?

CRANFORD: There's no ambiguity about the diagnosis. She had an EKG which was flat.

HANNITY: There are 33 professionals that disagree with you, sir. You only saw her one for — you only saw this woman for 45 minutes.

Let me just show a tape, by the way. Here's a tape of you moving the red balloon over Terri Schiavo. And you're quoted on the tape saying, "Hey, good Terri, I see you're following that." Did you not say that to Terri? Why would you say, "Good, I see you're following that," if she's in a vegetative state?

CRANFORD: Because when I examine vegetative states, I always communicate with them as if they're conscious. That's a routine examination that I do, and thought she did follow it for a few seconds. But she didn't have sustained visual pursuit, which is a hallmark of being outside the vegetative state.

HANNITY: So you talked to people that are in vegetative states...

CRANFORD: Yes. Not uncommon.

HANNITY: OK. Now let me ask you... My brother-in-law is one of the best radiologists in the country. This woman's never had an MRI? This woman's never had a PET?

CRANFORD: Right.

HANNITY: Don't you think just for certainty purposes we ought to go forward with that, sir?

CRANFORD: Well, No. 1 she can't have an MRI because she has an inter-salinic stimulator (ph) in her head. So it's contra-indicated...

HANNITY: But you can remove it. Her doctor recommended removing that, sir. Isn't that true?

CRANFORD: Fine.

No. 2, is an MRI isn't going to show more than the CAT scan. Because in this situation, with severe brain damage, an MRI won't show anything more than a CAT scan would.

HANNITY: That's not what my brother-in-law says.

CRANFORD: Well, your brother-in-law is just flat out wrong, because this CAT scan shows massive damage. The MRI is not going to show any more than that, and a PET scan...

HANNITY: All right. I have one last question.

CRANFORD: Sure.

HANNITY: Did you once say that people in vegetative states should have no constitutional rights? Did you once, sir, say that patients with advanced Alzheimer's Disease, it makes no sense at all to put a feeding tube in them? Did you say those things?

CRANFORD: I think I did write an article on constitutional rights many years ago with another constitutional scholar about the constitutional rights in a vegetative state...

HANNITY: So you said it?

CRANFORD: Yes. Yes, I did.

HANNITY: So people with Alzheimer's Disease, sir, it makes to sense at all to put a feeding tube in them and that people in a vegetative state have no constitutional rights? You said those things?

CRANFORD: Those are two things. With the second thing, with the advanced Alzheimer's, if it's advanced Alzheimer's it doesn't make sense to put a feeding tube in them because if they can't — they're at a point where they need a feeding tube, they're so severely demented...

COLMES: All right. Dr. Cranford, we thank you very much for your time tonight.

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