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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

 

Man wakes up in morgue after being mistaken for 'dead'

Man wakes up in South African morgue after being mistaken for 'dead'

Michael Sheridan
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Tuesday, July 26th 2011, 8:55 AM

Getty - FILE PHOTO
 
An unconscious South African man, presumed dead by relatives, had a rude awakening Sunday when he came to his senses in a morgue, officials said.

His cries for help terrified employees at the mortuary in the Eastern Cape province of Libode.

"Two workers heard screaming from the refrigerators," Sizwe Kupelo, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Health Department, told ABC News. "They thought it was a ghost and they ran for their lives."

The man, who did not want his name released but is described as a grandfather in his 60s, had apparently suffered an asthma attack and fell unconscious.

"The family called a private undertaker who took what they thought was a dead body to the morgue," Kupelo said, according to South Africa's News24.

Relatives did not call paramedics, but instead phoned the mortuary, assuming he was dead. The morgue's owner told The Associated Press that the worker who picked up the supposedly dead man "examined the body, checked his pulse, looked for a heartbeat, but there was nothing."

Ayanda Maqolo was there when the elderly man woke up and started screaming after having been in the refrigerator with other corpses for at least 21 hours.

"He asked, 'How did I get here?'" the owner recalled the man saying. The owner added that the chilling experience even gave him "nightmares."

"I couldn't sleep last night," he told AP. "But today I'm much better."

Kupelo said the health department wanted to publicize the incident because it exposes a real problem.

"This is why we're saying as a health department that people should call health services to have their relatives declared and certified dead, and not these private mortuaries," he told ABC News. "Those guys aren't trained paramedics. They're about business."

The "dead" man, who suffered from dehydration, was hospitalized briefly after the incident. He has since returned home to his family, Kupelo said.

The South African man was fortunate. Last month a woman in Russia was mistakenly declared dead and woke up at her own funeral. The shock caused her to suffer a heart attack, which officially killed her.


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