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Man wrongly declared dead by paramedics until TV crew spots his body bag moving
By Cassie B. // Jul 10, 2021

Although medical mistakes are surprisingly common, most of us can’t imagine a trained medical professional erroneously declaring us dead when we’re actually alive – but that’s exactly what happened following a Brazilian road accident.


When 71-year-old street food vendor Raimundo Nonato Santana da Silva became ill while riding his motorcycle around the Brazilian city of Araguaina last week, he fell off the vehicle and had an accident. Paramedics who were called to the scene pronounced him dead and placed his body in a body bag. They then left the scene, putting police officers in charge of watching the body bag until the coroner could arrive.

However, a reporter who was covering the accident and a few officers noticed the closed bag twitching later. They immediately opened the bag and spotted a small bubble of air escaping the corner of the man’s mouth. After performing CPR, the paramedics were called back and transported the very-much-alive man to the hospital.

Reporter Geovanni Pereiera said: “We were in the right place at the right time. I think it was a miracle.”

The paramedics now claim they performed CPR on him when they first arrived on the scene but then pronounced him dead “based on technical evaluation.” They say they are gong to review the man’s medical records to get a better picture of what happened – although it’s very clear this was a big mistake that could have resulted in the man dying needlessly.

Why are so many people mistakenly declared dead?

Although this is a shocking story, it’s not the only time something like this has happened recently. For example, an 81-year-old Russian woman was pronounced dead following unsuccessful surgery and spent a night in a hospital mortuary before a hospital staff member later found her on the floor. She apparently fell while trying to climb off the mortuary table to leave the room. She was then brought to intensive care for treatment.

There are countless examples of these incidents taking place both abroad and in the U.S. Last year, a 20-year-old Detroit woman was mistakenly pronounced dead by paramedics who responded to a 911 call from her mother that she was having difficulty breathing before later being found alive at a funeral home.

The woman, Timesha Beauchamp, suffered from cerebral palsy. The four paramedics who worked on her said they performed life-saving procedures on her for half an hour and checked her vital signs three times but did not see any signs of life. A doctor officially declared her dead based on information the paramedics provided. Her family expressed concerns twice that she appeared to still be breathing and had a pulse, but the paramedics said it was merely a side effect of medication they had given her.

She was left inside a body bag for at least two hours before an undertaker noticed her chest rising and falling while preparing to embalm her. When they opened the body bag, she was gasping for air and had her eyes open. Unfortunately, she was deprived of sufficient oxygen for four hours and spent eight weeks in the hospital in critical condition afterward. She ultimately died from the massive brain damage she sustained after being wrongly declared dead by paramedics, which resulted in her not being given much-needed oxygen. Her family filed a $50 million lawsuit against the paramedics, whose licenses were suspended.

Although these stories are deeply upsetting, it's even more disturbing to think that this could have happened countless times to many other people who weren't lucky enough to be discovered to be actually alive before being buried or cremated.

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