Rosangela Celestrino was devastated when she got the call to come identify her mother’s body at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. But when she arrived and the body was pulled out of the refrigerated drawer, she was shocked to find that her mother was still alive.
“I went to kiss my mom, and she was breathing. I began to scream, ‘My mom is alive!’ and everyone looked at me like I was crazy,” she told the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
Rosa Celestrino de Assis, 60, had spent two hours inside a plastic bag in the refrigerated drawer of a hospital morgue. She had been admitted to the Hospital Estadual Adao Pereira Nunes for a pulmonary infection.
At 7:20 p.m. last Friday, a nurse at the hospital called the on-call doctor when she saw that Celestrino de Assis was not showing any signs of life. The doctor ran some tests, pronounced her dead and had her taken to the morgue. At 10 p.m., when her daughter found her alive, Celestrino de Assis was returned to the intensive care unit.
“She made some sort of movement and was immediately taken to the ICU, intubated again and put on a respirator,” hospital director Manoel Moreira Filho told O Globo.
The nurse who first suspected Celestrino de Assis was dead has been fired, and the doctor who pronounced her dead has resigned. The family has made a police complaint. If negligence is proved, the family could sue for personal injury and if the patient were to die, the family could sue for manslaughter.
Celestrino de Assis’ shocked daughter is still struggling to understand what happened.
“You go to the hospital to pick up someone you know — [someone] who put you on the earth — and not only is she in the cold drawer of a hospital, but when I opened it, I saw that she was alive,” Celestrino said.