Philosophers and religious folk have argued for centuries about whether or not death truly is the end of the journey for mankind. The only way to know for certain would be to ask somebody who has actually died and came back to life. However, outside books and movies there isn’t a great deal of likelihood of finding such an example. Or so you would think – there are actually a peculiarly large number of cases of unfortunate individuals who have quietly shuffled off this mortal coil, only to find their souls stuffed unceremoniously back in their earthly forms.
While the rest of you may run for the hills, screaming of a zombie apocalypse, The Richest are made of sterner stuff and have investigated 10 such cases for your perusal. Some of the most interesting occasions of people being declared clinically dead, only to unfathomably survive the experience, are detailed in this article. From toddlers interrupting their own funerals to a sex worker being understandably miffed at being put into a coffin, the tales of folk who have kicked the bucket and then thought better of it are funny, tragic and mystifying. While some of the stories have already been logically explained, others are a complete mystery to doctors and investigators alike. The only thing that we can take from the full ten stories as a whole is – nothing is certain, not even death. It seems that the eternal mystery is destined to remain unsolved for a while longer.
10. Kelvin Santos
In June 2012, the Santos family of Belem, northern Brazil, were hit by unspeakable tragedy when two-year old Kelvin was pronounced dead in the local Aberlardo Santos hospital. The tot had been rushed in with breathing difficulties and diagnosed with pneumonia. He was pronounced dead at 7:40 on the Friday night and his body was handed back to the family in a plastic bag. After laying overnight in an open coffin, the family decided to conduct the funeral on the Saturday afternoon, where events took a turn for the inexplicable.
In front of a room full of witnesses, little Kelvin sat up in his coffin halfway through the funeral and asked, “Daddy, can I have some water?”, leaving mourners both terrified and hopeful of a miracle. Tragically, Kelvin laid back down and showed no further signs of life, the burial taking place later that day. Though doctors were adamant that Kelvin had died of cardiac-respiratory failure, dad Antonio brought a medical malpractice suit against the hospital.
9. Margorie McCall
Possibly the most dubious story on the list is an Irish folk tale dating from the 18th century, albeit one the good folk of Ireland swear is based on fact, so we’ll treat it as such. It concerns a wealthy landowner named Margorie McCall, who died from a fever. She was hastily buried in the local ceremony, to the extent that her fingers were still swollen when her distraught husband tried to remove her wedding ring. Foiled, the funeral was completed and Margorie laid to rest – for a while. Local grave-robbers, circling like vultures around a fresh, rich corpse, dug her up and stared to remove her ring by cutting off her finger.
Unfortunately, as the story goes, poor Margorie was slightly less than dead and woke up mid-cut. Her hysterical screaming scared off the robbers, as you’d imagine and alerted her husband. Sadly for Mr. McCall, the sight of his ‘dead’ wife running towards him, dripping blood gave his heart such a jolt that he dropped dead on the spot. The Irish are anything but wastrels – Margorie used her own shallow grave to bury her husband.
8. Luz Milagros Veron
Analia Bouter and her husband, Fabian Veron, had chosen the name Lucia Abigail for their imminent arrival. Shortly after the baby girl was born, the Buenos Aires couple decided instead to name her Luz Milagros Veron. The reason for the change? The name translates as Miracle Light in English – the circumstances of Luz Milagros’ birth were certainly miraculous. Doctors had found no signs of life when she was born three months premature and made the heartbreaking decision to declare her stillborn. That she is a normal, happy and healthy infant today is because her parents insisted on saying goodbye to her in person. Luz Milagros had spent 12 hours inside a sealed coffin in the freezing-cold morgue, but let out a whimper and moved slightly as the coffin lid was opened. The tot had survived against all the odds.
7. Carlos Camejo
It sounds like a particularly terrible scene from a horror novel – how would you react if you woke up during your own autopsy? Venezuelan man Carlos Camejo, reacted like all but the hardiest of us would – with abject terror. The ludicrously unlucky Carlos was declared dead in a highway accident in 2007, after which he was taken away by medical examiners to the local hospital before his wife was able to identify the corpse. Eager to get on with the grisly business of conducting his autopsy, the coroners began by slicing into the flesh on Carlos’ chin. Two major clues alerted the docs that this was no regular autopsy; firstly, the amount of fresh blood flowing from Camejo’s chin was highly irregular and secondly – and more obviously – the poor bloke began screaming. After presumably arming themselves with crucifixes and fresh underpants, the surgeons stitched him up and presented Carlos to his delighted wife. A master of the understatement, Carlos later mused, “I woke up because the pain was unbearable”.
6. Li Xiufeng
Those of you with elderly relatives will know two things about them; never write them off because of their advanced years and never annoy them. The family of 95-year old Chinese grandmother Li Xiufeng, merrily disregarded both of these nuggets of advice. Li was found prone on the floor of her home by a neighbor, who alerted the rest of her family. Finding no signs of life and one extremely cold body, the family began the traditional funeral procedures of placing Li in an open coffin for the waiting period of a few days before burial. This tradition probably saved Li’s life, as the following day, she climbed out of the coffin and began cooking dinner as if nothing had happened. Her flabbergasted family possibly spent the rest of her days apologizing profusely, because they had already burned all of her possessions, which is probably for the best as they were almost certainly written out of Li’s will anyway.
5. Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov
The funeral of 49-year old Russian woman Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, is one which one would struggle to imagine going worse than it did – any funeral that ends with more dead bodies than it began with can be classed as a spectacular failure. Fagilyu was pronounced dead after an illness by doctors and prepared for burial. As distraught relatives filed past her coffin, their murmured prayers woke Fagilyu up. Unfortunately, the sheer horror of being the guest of honor at her own funeral caused a catastrophic heart attack; after being rushed back to hospital, she was pronounced dead, this time for good. Her understandably angry husband, Fagilyu demanded answers from the hospital, who promised to launch an investigation. Somehow, this doesn’t instill us with confidence.
4. Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi
The best funerals are heart-warming celebrations of the life of the deceased. Egyptian waiter Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi, took this notion one step further. The 28-year old had suffered a heart attack while working and was pronounced dead by doctors. In accordance with Islamic tradition, his relatives claimed his body and took it home to wash him and prepare him for burial. Cue the hapless doctor whose duty it was to sign the death certificate. After discovering that his body was still warm, she realized that Al-Nubi was still alive. After cracking open two vials of smelling salts – one for his mother, who promptly fainted after hearing the news- the mourners were alerted and the funeral was turned into an impromptu ‘welcome home’ party for the bewildered Al-Nubi.
3. Walter Williams
The case of 78-year old Walter Williams, from Mississippi, is a testament to how luck and sheer will can combine to stare the Grim Reaper in the eye and flip him the bird. In 2014, the septuagenarian was confirmed to be clinically dead by a nurse in charge of his care.
A coroner was dispatched to Williams’ home to collect the body and, after verifying that there were no signs of life, the medics prepared to transfer the still-warm corpse to a body bag. However, all bets were off when the plucky pensioner began to kick his legs and struggle against the bag. Upon listening to his chest, the nurse discovered a heartbeat which had most definitely not been present previously. Though it has still not been determined how Walter came back from beyond the brink, experts believe that his heart may have been jump-started by a defibrillator embedded in his chest.
Proving the old adage ‘too much love can kill you’ to be true, a hotel room in Zimbabwe was the scene of a thoroughly unfortunate incident for sex worker MaNdlo, and her ‘guest’ for the evening. The couple were halfway through whatever it is prostitutes and their clients get up to in hotel rooms – particularly tricky games of Scrabble, perhaps? – when MaNdlo suddenly keeled over on the floor and appeared for all the world to be dead. Staring in horror at the corpse and realizing that this wasn’t the kind of stiffening he had anticipated, the customer fled just before the cops arrived. As the police began to seal MaNdlo into a steel coffin, the prostitute woke up and shouted, “You want to kill me”. The gawking onlookers who had began to form outside the hotel room immediately fled in terror, along with a sizable proportion of Johnny Law, while MaNdlo herself was last seen being escorted across the street by a fellow sex worker, still ranting and raving at the top of her voice.
1. Lyudmila Steblitskaya
In November of 2011, Nastya Steblitskaya attended the hospital to visit her mother, Lyudmila, who had been suffering from a recent bout of poor health. She was duly informed that Lyudmila had died earlier that day and that her body had already been transferred to the morgue, which was now closed for the weekend. Realising that she wouldn’t be able to view her mother’s body until the Monday, Nastya spent the weekend making the funeral arrangements. Once Monday arrived, she went back to the hospital to collect the body. In possibly the most understandable reaction of the whole article, Lyudmila left the building running and screaming after seeing her mother happily strolling about in the hospital corridors.
Though the hospital refused to comment, Lyudmila was told her mother spent the entire weekend in the morgue. To top things off, the following year saw Lyudmila again pronounced dead for several hours before being revived. It’s almost like the world’s most traumatic party trick.