If you’ve long harbored what you thought were irrational fears of being wrongly pronounced dead and buried alive, this story might not be for you...
Morgue workers in India received a shock worthy of a Hollywood horror flick as they discovered that a corpse in their freezer was in fact still alive, reports BBC News. The unfortunate accidental morgue resident woke to the surprise of everyone, fortunately making his “still living” status known before the post-mortem began. According to the BBC, a failure to follow hospital protocol caused the distressing mix-up and the patient later died after being returned from the morgue to the same hospital.
The horrifying event took place in Mumbai where the 50-year-old man had been found unconscious at a bus stop. He was treated for an electrolyte imbalance and given a blood transfusion to combat anemia but was pronounced dead two days after being admitted to hospital.
The hospital’s protocol dictated that deceased patients should remain on the ward for two hours following a diagnosis of death, just to be sure. However, on this occasion, the “corpse” was immediately transported to the mortuary and placed in one of the cooling units that preserve bodies while they await post mortem analysis.
When morgue workers retrieved the body two days later to begin tests to establish cause of death, the man awoke. An inquiry has been launched to ascertain how the grave error occurred, which will now include a post mortem as the patient died shortly after being retrieved from the morgue.
The incident is unfortunately not an isolated one. There exists a club that nobody wants to join of patients who have been declared “dead” only to be found still very much alive. One such person even attended their own funeral. Three doctors unanimously came to the decision that a prisoner in Spain was dead only for them to turn out to be very much still alive, while a “fatality” from a car crash in South Africa managed to convince the first responders’ arsenal of tests that they exhibited no signs of life.
So, how do you present as dead when you are in fact alive? Some avoidable cases are down to human error, which is why many hospitals have strict protocols in place to ensure corpses and living patients are distributed between the morgue and wards accordingly. Certain medical conditions however can make it difficult, even with equipment, to ascertain if someone is still alive.
Catalepsy is a condition that presents in epilepsy patients and can bring on all the markers of death by slowing vital signs such as breathing and heart rate, as well as causing rigidity that mimics rigor mortis. Extreme cold can also bring on a deceased-like state, inspiring the macabre medical quote “not dead until warm and dead” as patients even in the most extreme cases of hypothermia have been brought back to life.
A rare heart condition known as Lazarus Syndrome – named after the Biblical story of Lazarus, who was brought back from the dead by Jesus – has also led to a series of false death diagnoses. One such patient failed to establish a heartbeat following 35 minutes of treatment and was declared dead, only to be found moving in the mortuary by a police officer ahead of his own post mortem. I’d challenge you to describe a worse way to wake up, but I really don’t think you can.
[H/T: BBC News]