A prisoner from Villabona prison in Asturias, Spain had been confirmed by three different doctors dead from a stroke that he suffered during his sleep. Nothing very unusual to be seen in prison, as stated by a spokesman for the Spanish Prison Service.
Once the body was taken to the morgue and placed in a cold bay in line for autopsy no one expected what would happen next. As the pathologist team was getting the body ready, the man in question named Gonzalo Montoya Jimenez woke up very alarmed once he saw medical staff with scalpels in their hands.
How did this exactly happen after specialists confirmed the death of this person? Of the three doctors that confirmed the death of Jimenez, two were doctors from the Villabona prison who confirmed they didn’t find any vital signs. The third doctor came from a Medical institute as per procedures and gave the final verdict that the person was dead.
“Two prison doctors concluded he had clinical signs of death following a morning roll call and informed police, his next-of-kin, and a local duty court as part of standard procedure,” (Quote by Spanish Prison Service)
Jimenez had complained of feeling ill a day before he was declared dead. He was found by the doctors in his cell with no pulse and his skin turned purple as normal after a person passes away. Experts from the Institute of Legal Medicine suspect that this is a case of Catalepsy which had been seen before in rare cases, but nothing similar to this case.
Catalepsy happens when a person’s vital signs slow down so much that they’re almost undetectable by medics. This is why people with Catalepsy are mistakenly presumed dead, but such cases, just like the one in question are extremely rare.
Once Jimenez had been calmed down by the forensics team, he was rushed to Oviedo hospital where he has been placed under intensive care due to the long-term apnea he had been through. Apnea is defined as the temporary cessation of breathing and this can cause some severe brain damage as the brain is not receiving enough oxygen.
Jimenez’s family had to go through the tragic news and were very confused once they hear that he had “woken up from the dead”. The family is furious with prison officials and is “convinced” that just one prison doctor examined his body while the two others simply signed the death certificate.
Scientists that have looked into this case call it “an exceptional case of apparent death” and even with the given reasoning behind the mistaken death confirmation, scientists are still looking to see what exactly caused this to happen. This may have something to do with the illness that Jimenez had complained about a day prior which seemed to have not been taken seriously by the prison doctors.
The three doctors who confirmed Jimenez's death are investigated by the Institute of Legal Medicine for malpractice. The institute will take into consideration previous cases that are somewhat similar, but this is truly an exceptional and rare case.