Sunday, October 17, 2010

Waking up in the morgue

I have difficulty distinguishing between a trope and a meme, but I guess the idea of waking up in the morgue qualifies as the latter - except that it really does happen! Here are a few examples from around the world:

Maryland, U.S.A., 2010 When police were called to check on Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, 89, they encountered a motionless body and "a decomposition smell," so they did not check for a pulse. They notified Johnson's adult son of the death of his mother, whom he knew wished to donate her body to science. A State Anatomy Board employee arrived 3 hours later to remove the body. It was at that time that Johnson took a deep breath and moved her arm. She was rushed to a hospital, and has since been moved to a hospice.

Jablonowo, Poland, 2009 The husband of an 84-year-old woman who had fallen unconscious called an ambulance and a responding EMS doctor pronounced her dead. "A funeral company took the body to the morgue. Several hours later, a worker there noticed the bag containing the body was moving. He called a doctor who noted the woman's vital functions had returned," said a spokesman for the police, who were investigating the incident.

Anandpur Sahib, India, 2008 Mange Ram passed out when he was crushed by a stampede of people that killed 146. "When I woke up, I was in the middle of a row of bodies waiting for postmortem," the 19-year-old said, shivering. His request for water startled the staff of the civil hospital. Eyewitnesses said there was such confusion after the trample at the Naina Devi shrine that procedures for pronouncing death and identifying victims were not followed. Those who had suffocated and those who were merely unconscious were bundled into available vehicles and driven the 18 km to the nearest medical facility, some of them dying en route.

La Victoria, Venezuela, 2007 Carlos Camejo (pictured with document authorizing his autopsy), was declared dead after a highway accident. He was taken to the morgue, but bled when the medical examiner made an incision to begin a post-mortem examination. "I woke up because the pain was unbearable," said the 33-year-old.

North Carolina, U.S.A. 2005 Larry Green was hit by a car while walking across a highway. He was put into a body bag and sent to the morgue, and the medical examiner did not notice he was still alive until 2½ hours after the accident. "The medical examiner is called after death. Someone else pronounced his death, and the medical examiner is called to investigate the cause and manner of that death. He does not pronounce people dead," said M.E. J.B. Perdue in defense of his alleged disregard of Green's vital signs. After it was discovered that he was still alive, Green spent 2 months in the hospital recovering from his injuries, which include brain damage.


1 comment:

  1. Wow, how scary. Stephen King wrote a short story on the subject, "Autopsy Room Four" from inside the head of a man pronounced dead and unable to move or indicate he is alive. I never imagined that it could really happen though.


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