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Charatan writes that Terri Schiavo "had been on a life support
machine for 15 years after a cardiac arrest".
As Ms Schiavo was not on a ventilator, Charatan is presumably using
the term "life support machine" to mean the pump which was used to deliver
her "artificial nutrition and hydration via a percutaneous endoscopic
gastrostomy". This is an unusual use of the term (which is anyway better
suited to tabloid newspapers than to the BMJ).