Brazilian "corpse" sent to morgue comes out alive

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(CBS) Most people who wind up in a body bag don't get out alive. But that wasn't the case for Rosa Celestrino de Assis. The 60-year-old Brazilian woman spent two hours inside a refrigerated body bag at a hospital morgue in Rio de Janeiro before her daughter - who had been called in to identify her mother's body - found her alive.

"I went to give my mom one last huge, and I could feel that she was breathing," Rosangela Celestrino told a Brazilian newspaper, according to the New Zealand Herald. "I screamed out - my mom is alive! And they all looked at me like I was crazy."

Rosangela's mom had been admitted to Hospital Estadual Adao Pereira Nunes for a lung infection, ABC News reported. At 7:20 p.m. last Friday, a doctor at the hospital ran some tests and pronounced her dead and had her taken to the morgue. After Rosangela found her still alive, around 10 p.m., she was taken back to the intensive care unit.

Bizarre as it was, the case wasn't the only one of its kind. As CBS News reported in July, an unidentified South African man was found alive in a morgue after spending about 21 hours there. He had been deemed dead but had only suffered a severe asthma attack.

What explains botched death pronouncements like these? It's not clear. Before pronouncing a patient dead, doctors are supposed to follow strict guidelines, checking pulse, breathing, response to touch, and checking for heart sounds and for the pupils' response to light.

No word on how Rosa is doing. But according to ABC News, a nurse who first suspected that she had died was fired and the doctor who pronounced her dead has resigned.

As for Rosangela, ABC News reported that she's still trying to make sense of her strange ordeal:

"You go to the hospital to pick up someone you know - [someone] who put you on the earth - and not only is she in the cold drawer of a hospital, but when I opened it, I saw that she was alive."

  • David W Freeman

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