In a bizarre twist of fate, a man pronounced dead by doctors was discovered alive and breathing after spending at least six hours in a morgue freezer.
On Nov. 18, Srikesh Kumar, who works as an electrician, was taken to a hospital after he was hit by a speeding motorcycle in the Indian city of Moradabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Doctors at the district hospital pronounced Kumar dead on arrival.
“The emergency medical officer had seen the patient at 3 a.m. and there was no heartbeat. He had examined the man multiple times,” Moradabad’s chief medical superintendent Dr. Shiv Singh told the local press. Kumar was shifted to a hospital morgue at a government medical facility at 4.30 a.m., where he was kept in a freezer overnight for a period of at least six hours.
The next day, Kumar’s family members arrived at the morgue with the police to sign a document to agree to an autopsy after identifying his body. Kumar’s sister in-law Madhubala Gautam, along with four family members, entered the morgue for the procedure. When Gautaum touched Kumar, she was shocked to still find signs of life.
“I touched his cheeks and called him jija ji (brother-in-law). To my happiness and horror, it was warm. He was breathing,” Gautam told Times of India.
A video shared on social media shows Kumar being examined by doctors and transported from the morgue on a stretcher to a hospital. Kumar is currently in a coma and is undergoing treatment in a hospital in Meerut city.
“Srikesh Kumar is on ventilator support and his condition is still critical because of clotting in the brain. Doctors are observing his condition closely and ensuring that he is safe from any external infection,” Times of India reporter Kanwardeep Singh told VICE World News.
Medical staff at the hospital that initially received Kumar have called the incident “nothing short of a miracle.” Kumar’s family is enraged by the incident, saying that Kumar could have died as a result of his time in the freezer. Earlier, Kumar’s family expressed their intention to file a complaint of medical negligence against the district hospital staff, but they have yet to do so. An investigation is reportedly underway to examine the doctor’s actions.
Alleged medical negligence has been disputed by the district chief medical superintendent.
“Sometimes, there are problems in declaring someone dead. For example, there is ‘suspended animation’ where there is temporary cessation of many vital organs without death,” said Singh. “We can’t call it negligence (on the part of doctors) until we have all the reports in our hand.”
In a comparable case in 2020, a man presumed dead in Kericho, Kenya woke up screaming when a morgue worker sliced his leg open in preparation to embalm him. In 2011, morgue attendants in the Eastern Cape of South Africa ran away after believing a ‘dead’ man to be a ghost when he woke up shouting.
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