Bella Montoya Castro was declared dead at noon last Friday in the Babahoyo hospital in the southwest of Quito, Ecuador. Hours later, at six in the afternoon, friends and family gathered to give her one last goodbye. Some approached the casket to give her flowers when “they heard blows inside the coffin,” her son Gilber Barberán says. Amidst the noise of the guests, they took a while to realize that the sounds were coming from Bella.
“Some friends put flowers on the casket, by her face, until we realized that it was my mother. ‘She’s alive!’” Gilber cried out. The first thing Bella did was to take a mouthful of air. She sat up, and the guests called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived minutes later, removed her from the casket, wrapped her in sheets and took her back to the hospital.
The 76-year-old woman had been feeling ill early Friday morning and so her youngest son took her to the Martín Icaza hospital, which is an hour and a half from Guayaquil, on the Ecuadorian coast. She was admitted for a stroke, according to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health. Shortly after midday, a doctor told Gilber that his mother had died. The doctor gave him a document to begin any legal proceedings following her death. The cause of death was cardiorespiratory arrest, according to the death certificate. “Something told me that she wasn’t dead, and I asked to see her, but they didn’t let me,” the son said. The body was taken to the funeral home.
Following Bella’s revival, the Ministry of Health ordered the creation of a Medical Auditing Team to evaluate who was responsible for “the supposed confirmation of death.” The patient, who was immediately taken from the funeral to a health center, is hospitalized in an intensive care unit within the institution that declared her dead. Her diagnosis is reserved, and her son says that the doctors do not have much hope for her survival but have asked for patience. “Now she has a pulse and her heart is beating,” Gilber says.
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