The story of a man who wakes up in a morgue along side other corpses, sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, but in this case it was real life. The man, who was deemed dead by morgue staff, woke up and was screaming for someone to let him out of the very cold refrigerator unit in this morgue. He woke up after being in there for almost an entire day.
The 60 year-old South African man wished not to be identified, but his story starts when he passed out after suffering an asthma attack last weekend. His family called a private mortuary instead of paramedics, after they believed the man to be dead. He was transported to this privately owned morgue and spent 21 hours in the refrigerated unit which was made for corpses.
When the man finally woke up, he was surrounded by corpses and started to scream. He said he screamed because of the freezing temperatures. Instead of investigating the screams, two workers in the morgue ran out of the building as soon as the screams started. They thought it was a ghost.
The two attendants got the entire mortuary team and returned to investigate, this is when they opened up the refrigerator. Inside they found a very cold shivering man, who was confused as to where he was and why he was there. This time an ambulance was called and the man was rushed to the hospital.
The doctors warmed him up and put him under observation after this bizarre ordeal. Six hours passed and the man was found to be fine, he was medically cleared and discharged home. He will see a doctor at the hospital for a check-up this week.
The refrigerator is kept at very low temperatures for the obvious reason of arresting the decomposition of the bodies inside. This temperature would be very uncomfortable and feel like freezing weather for a live person.
According to ABC, as entertaining as this story may be, it opens up a serious topic. The government of South Africa is taking this case public and using it as a type of warning for the public. They consider this a very serious issue and are urging the public to always have medical personal be the ones to pronounce someone dead. Only trained health officials should declare people dead.
As the family and the mortuary staff believed the man to be deceased, he wasn’t. The mortuary staff did check, but found no heartbeat, but it was there, it was just faint and trained medical personal would have picked this up.
Sizwe Kupelo, spokesman for the Eastern Cape Health Department said, "This is why we're saying as a health department that people should call health services to have their relatives declared and certified dead and not these private mortuaries," he said. "Those guys are aren't trained paramedics. They're about business."
The man's grandson tried to defend the family's action on Facebook, Kupelo tells ABC. Unfortunately, this is not the end of this event for the man as the villagers will probably believe that a ghost is among them, Kupelo said. He also said "There will probably be family members that will refuse to stay the night with him now."
This has to be anybody's worst nightmare, waking up in a place meant for the dead. It is just lucky that the man woke up in time. It is not known what the next step in the burial process was going to be. Whether embalming, cremation, or burial, this would have been a point of no return for the man.
There are, of course, countries where embalming is not that popular, including those in Eastern Europe. In an earlier story, a Russian woman woke up at her own funeral. In her case, the ending was far worse: she had a heart attack and died later.