Funerals are supposed to offer a chance to say goodbye. In recent months, though, a number of stories have emerged around the globe of people who were thought to be dead, but awoke — in a coffin or a morgue — after being declared deceased. Sometimes, the resurrections last only briefly, as happened in the most recent case involving a toddler in Brazil. Some of the resurrected, however, get a lasting new shot at life. Here, seven strange tales of people rising from the great beyond:
1. The Brazilian toddler who died twice
Not all resurrections end well. A heart-wrenching case in point: Little Kelvin Santos, 2, died last week — or so his parents were told — while being treated for pneumonia. The child's devastated family held a wake through the night. Then, an hour before the funeral was to begin, Kelvin sat up in his open coffin, and said, "Daddy, can I have some water?" People started screaming. "We thought a miracle had taken place and our boy had come back to life," the boy's father, Antonio Santos said. "Then Kelvin just laid back down, the way he was. We couldn't wake him. He was dead again." The family filed a medical malpractice complaint, and police are investigating.
2. The Yemeni man who awoke in his grave
A 65-year-old heart attack victim in Yemen had been washed and wrapped in special cloth, according to Muslim tradition. Mourners had placed him in his grave, and were preparing to cover him with dirt, when the man suddenly came to. He was not amused. "You want to kill me and bury me alive," he shouted, according to the Alettejah news website. After the shock wore off, mourners gave the no-longer-dead man fresh clothes, and turned the funeral into a party.
3. The stillborn baby... who came to life
Argentinean mother Analia Bouter's baby was declared stillborn after an emergency C-section in April. Bouter and her husband, Fabian Veron, never got to see the body before it was taken away, so they went down to the refrigerated morgue, where the baby was being kept in a drawer, to say good-bye. They opened the drawer, and Bouter said she "felt" the child looking at her. She touched the newborn's icy hand, and saw that the baby was alive. She fell to her knees, and the baby let out a faint cry. The parents named the baby Luz Milagros, or "light," "miracles." The child is still alive, although doctors have said she has irreversible brain damage.
4. The "ghost" who scared away morgue staff
A South African man in his 60s passed out after an asthma attack last July. Thinking him dead, his grieving family called a private funeral company, instead of paramedics. After spending 21 hours in a refrigerated morgue, the man woke up surrounded by corpses and started to scream. Two workers heard the noises and panicked. "They thought it was a ghost," said Sizwe Kupelo, spokesman for the local health department, "and they ran for their lives." The entire mortuary team returned together later and freed the undead man.
5. The Chinese woman who rose from her coffin to fix dinner
Two weeks after falling and suffering a head injury, Li Xiufeng, 95, was found lying motionless in her home by a neighbor. The friend couldn't wake her up. She was placed in a coffin and, according to local custom, was supposed to rest there for several days before the funeral. A day before the burial, her neighbor went to check on the coffin, and Li was gone. "I slept for a long time," she reportedly told her fellow villagers. "After waking up, I felt so hungry, and wanted to cook something to eat." Apparently, a doctor said, the tradition of waiting days before burial saved her. Another custom — the ritual burning all of a dead person's possessions — did not work in her favor.
6. The Russian woman who died after her funeral
A 49-year-old Russian woman, Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, collapsed at her home with chest pains last year. Doctors told her husband that she had suffered a massive heart attack, and they pronounced her dead. At the open-casket funeral, the "dead" woman heard mourners praying for her soul to go to heaven. Her eyes started fluttering, and, realizing where she was, she started to scream. "We immediately rushed her back to the hospital," says her widower, as quoted by Austrian Times, "but she only lived for another 12 minutes in intensive care before she died again, this time for good."
7. The Venezuelan man who awoke during his own autopsy
A Venezuelan man, Carlos Camejo, was declared dead after a highway accident in 2007. Before his wife could arrive to identify the body, medical examiners began an autopsy. Camejo who had been declared dead woke up in the morgue in excruciating pain after medical examiners began an autopsy. They cut into his face, and were surprised as fresh blood poured out. They quickly started sewing the incision, and Camejo regained consciousness. "I woke up because the pain was unbearable," Camejo told a local newspaper. When his wife arrived to identify him, she found Camejo waiting for her in the corridor.