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Man Pronounced Dead Wakes Up in Morgue Freezer


One man got a second chance at life after his doctors believed him to be dead. A motorcycle accident left him in the hospital with no signs of life. It wasn’t until the next day when his family visited the morgue when the man woke up.  

The next time you send a body to the morgue, make sure they’re actually deceased.

“Happiness and Horror”

Officials say Srikesh Kumar, 45, was in critical condition after getting into a motorcycle accident in Moradabad, India. Doctors say he was pronounced dead at a local hospital before being transported to the morgue.

“The emergency medical officer examined him. He did not find any signs of life and hence declared him dead,” Dr. Rajendra Kumar, the hospital’s medical superintendent, told reporters.

He said he was informed of the man’s death before he was moved to the freezer. His family showed up at the facility six hours later.

“When a police team and his family came over to initiate the paperwork for the autopsy, he was found alive,” Kumar said. “This is nothing short of a miracle.”

Madhu Bala, Kumar’s sister-in-law, reacted to the incident in a video on social media that’s since gone viral.

“He’s not at all dead, in fact far from it. How did this happen? Look, he wants to say something, he is breathing,” Bala remembers telling the doctors at the morgue.

She was there with his family to see the body. Bala said his skin felt warm when she touched his cheeks. She then noticed he was breathing.

She described the scene as both “happiness and horror.”

“We will lodge a complaint against the doctors for negligence as they almost killed Srikesh by putting him in a freezer,” Bala added.

Moradabad’s chief medical superintendent, Dr. Shiv Singh called the incident the “rarest of cases.”

“The emergency medical officer had seen the patient at around 3 a.m., and there was no heartbeat,” Singh said. “He told me he had examined the man multiple times. Therefore, he was declared dead. In the morning, a police team and his family found him alive. A probe has been ordered and our priority, at the moment, is to save his life.”

“Sometimes there are difficulties faced while declaring someone dead,” Singh added. “We can’t call it negligence until we have all the reports in our hand.”

Officials say the investigation is ongoing.

Waking Up in the Morgue

Pronouncing a patient as dead is more complicated than you might think. There have been several notable cases of patients waking up in the morgue.

Last year, an 81-year-old Russian woman was found alive at a morgue just a few hours after being pronounced dead.

Zinaida Kononova went in for surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction. Doctors pronounced her dead after she failed to respond to resuscitation efforts. They told Tatyana Kulikova, Kononova’s niece, that she was technically deceased for 15 minutes.

Roman Kondratenko, the chief physician at the hospital where Kononova had surgery, was suspended during the investigation.

An employee reportedly found Kononova on the floor after she tried to get off the morgue table. A paramedic heard the worker say, “Grandma, go to bed, grandma, shut up,” while responding to the woman. The paramedic thought the worker had gone “mad” before seeing Kononova reach out to touch him.

Kulikova remembers the doctor calling her after Kononova woke up. “We have an unusual situation. She [your aunt] is alive.”

When Kulikova went to see her aunt, she noted, “At first she didn’t recognize me or remember that she had had an operation. But she spoke about her old knee problem.”

Upon investigating, authorities discovered the anesthesiologist sent Kononova to the morgue 20 minutes after she failed to respond to resuscitation efforts instead of 2 hours, as per required protocol.

Before that, an Indian man named Budh Ram Gujjar woke up just before his own funeral.

Authorities say Gujjar started shivering and breathing when his family poured cold water on his chest as part of a traditional pre-funeral ritual.

“The priest had started the rituals and a barber had shaved the heads of the men in the family. We were about to bathe the body as a customary practice before the funeral procession,” his son Balu Ram told reporters. “He started breathing and [sat up] soon after… It is nothing but a miracle.”

Miracle or not, these patients are glad to still be alive.

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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