It's the stuff of nightmares: You fall asleep one day and wake up to find you're in a body bag with several morgue workers looking down at you in horror.
That's the reality of one man in Shanghai, China, this week, after his nursing home declared him dead despite being very much not so. Video footage captured by a nearby onlooker shows events unfold, as the workers looked inside the body bag, and realized the terrible mistake.
One worker is heard saying "Alive! Did you see that? Alive!", according to Sky News, while another warns "Do not cover him again!"
The incident, which Sky News reports took place at the Xinchangzheng Nursing Home, was recorded by an unnamed person, who can be heard remarking "the nursing home is such a mess. They sent a living person on a hearse and said they were dead. The undertaker staff said they were still moving," adding, "it is irresponsible, really irresponsible."
The man inside the body bag has since been moved to hospital, where he has received treatment and has been stabilized.
Being mistaken for dead is a surprisingly common occurrence. In 2014, a 91-year-old Polish woman was declared dead, only to wake up in the morgue's cold storage, complaining about being cold. In February of the same year, coroners in Mississippi were surprised when a 78-year-old man began kicking within his own body bag.
In one particularly horrifying incident in 2018, Gonzalo Montoya Jiménez, a prisoner in Spain, was found unconscious in his cell, according to local newspaper La Voz de Asturias. Shortly afterward, he was pronounced dead by three doctors at the prison, having found no signs of life.
His "body" was bagged up and then moved to the mortuary at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Oviedo, where he was prepared for autopsy. This included putting marks over his body, which are used to guide the coroner. His family was even informed that he had died.
Thankfully, before the autopsy could be performed, the 29-year-old started showing signs of life, which were noticed by the forensic team preparing him for autopsy, his family told La Voz de Asturias. He was transferred to an ICU in a nearby hospital where he recovered enough to talk.
According to Informativos Telecinco, it is believed that it could have been a case of catalepsy. Catalepsy symptoms include rigidity, unresponsiveness, and loss of muscle control, as well as slowing of vital bodily functions (such as breathing). It's easy to see how someone showing signs of catalepsy could be mistaken for dead.
Catalepsy is itself a symptom of epilepsy, which La Voz de Asturias reports Jiménez experienced. It's unknown whether medical staff at the prison were aware of his epilepsy when he was pronounced dead.