Prisoner declared dead came back to life right before autopsy

A doctor about to do an autopsy on a dead patient.

A doctor about to do an autopsy on a dead patient.

Hannah Vanduren, Ranger Review Reporter

A man from Spain was declared dead by 3 doctors until he started snoring on the table before the autopsy. Gonzalo Montoya Jiménez, 29 years old, was imprisoned in a jail in Spain and found unconscious on the floor of his cell on Sunday. The three doctors examined the prisoner and declared him dead.

Right before Jiménez’s autopsy, he was heard making snoring noises on the autopsy table, and was found to still be alive. Just four hours later, after being examined and declared dead,   a family member pointed out, the prisoner had marks on his body to help guide the autopsy.

Jiménez finally gained consciousness and is currently being held in the intensive care unit at the Central University Hospital of Asturias (HUCA).

When doctors declare someone dead, they check for a pulse, check their eyes for dilation with a flashlight, and check the monitor for heartbeat, brain waves, and respiration. If there is no sign of life, the doctor will speak the time out loud to declare the death of their patient.

When determining if someone is dead, it might sound easy to some, but there are not universal guidelines for exactly when doctors should pronounce someone dead. A person can be declared dead when one of two things happens: their heart stops beating or they are considered “braindead”. When someone is braindead, this means that the brain is no longer working in any capacity and never will again.

If a breathing machine is still connected to the patient, other organs such as the heart, kidneys or liver can still have function for a short period of time; but when a patient is declared brain dead, it means the person will not be able to regain consciousness.

In recent tests, Jiménez’s family said Jiménez had epilepsy and the doctors think this played a part when he “rose from the dead.” Some people with epilepsy can experience a condition called catalepsy, in which their muscles become rigid and their body does not respond or react to stimuli.

This isn’t the first time someone has been declared dead but was actually alive. A 91-year-old women from Portland was declared dead and spent the afternoon in a body bag before a worker from the mortuary found the bag moving.