Tags: wake | morgue

Waking Up in Morgue Not as Unusual as You Think

By    |   Friday, 14 Nov 2014 05:20 PM

It’s the kind of nightmare scenario Steven King might dream up: Waking from a deep sleep to find yourself in the morgue.

But a new report suggests the experience happens to more hospital patients than you might imagine, according to The Guardian
 
In Poland, a 91-year-old woman recently shocked her family by waking up in a morgue after being declared dead and refrigerated for 11 hours of cold storage. Janina Kolkiewicz was discovered to be alive and well after mortuary staff detected movements in her body bag.
 
Last January, a 24-year-old Kenyan man, Paul Mutora, who was pronounced dead after swallowing insecticide woke up 15 hours later in a morgue — causing staff to “take to their heels, screaming.”
 
In March, Walter Williams, a 78-year-old man, was found alive in a body bag at a funeral home in Mississippi, just as staff were preparing to embalm his body. Williams had been declared dead as he had “no pulse,” but it began kicking a few hours later.
 
So how does it happen? In Mutora’s case, the Guardian reported, the atropine he was given by medical staff to counteract the insecticide may have made him appear dead (it slows heart rate).

With Williams, meanwhile, questions have been raised about the coroner who pronounced him dead, Dexter Howard — an elected official who didn't have a medical degree. In other cases, the cold temperatures inside the morgue decrease the cells’ need for oxygen and glucose and they go into a type of hibernation state.
 
Even within the medical community there is debate over what really constitutes death. Is it when the brain is declared dead, the heart stops beating, or both?
 
Some people also have a condition called catalepsy — a nervous disorder that replicates the stiff muscles of rigor mortis, slows breathing, and decreases sensitivity to pain. This condition was written about extensively by Edgar Allen Poe, who was terrified of being buried prematurely – a very real fear during the 19th century.

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Hospital patients who wake up in the morgue are more numerous than you might imagine, a new report suggests.
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2014-20-14
Friday, 14 Nov 2014 05:20 PM
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