Nebraska woman declared dead found alive at funeral home

A Nebraska woman initially pronounced dead at a nursing home was later found alive at a funeral home, authorities confirmed.

On Monday, staff at a funeral home in Waverly, near Lincoln, made an emergency call and noticed the 74-year-old woman was still breathing and performed CPR.

Constance Glantz had been pronounced dead by staff at a nearby nursing home about two hours earlier.

She was taken to a local hospital. Police are investigating the incident but say they have found no evidence of criminal intent on the part of the nursing home.

“This is a very unusual case,” Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ben Houchin said in a livestreamed news conference.

“I’ve been doing this for 31 years and nothing like this has ever gotten to this point before.”

A coroner was not sent to the nursing home because Ms. Glantz had been placed in hospice care and the circumstances were not within his jurisdiction, Houchin told reporters. Glantz’s death had been anticipated, she explained.

Furthermore, “she had been seen by a doctor within the last seven days, and the doctor was willing to sign the death certificate, and… there was nothing suspicious at the time of death.”

The woman’s current condition is unknown. Houchin confirmed that her family had been notified of the situation.

Mrs. Glantz is not the only person who is declared dead and then revealed to still be alive.

In June last year, 76-year-old Bella Montoya in Ecuador was pronounced dead after a suspected stroke, placed in a coffin and taken to a funeral home for a vigil before her burial. Five hours later, she was discovered to be alive after the coffin was opened to change clothes. However, she died days later.

In 2018, a South African woman who was initially pronounced dead after a traffic accident was discovered alive in a mortuary refrigerator.

Dr Stephen Hughes, senior lecturer in medicine at Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine in Chelmsford, has said such cases are rare but “death is a process”.

“Sometimes someone may look like they are dead, but they are not completely dead,” Dr Hughes told the BBC after the incident in Ecuador. “Careful examination is necessary.”

Dr. Hughes added that doctors often looked for heart sounds or respiratory effort for at least a minute before declaring someone dead, and that some medications could also slow down bodily processes, giving someone the false appearance of having died.

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