A Brazilian hospital informed a grieving family that their beloved uncle who was battling stomach cancer had passed away. Well, the hospital was dead wrong.
Fifty-four-year old Valdelucio Goncalves was declared deceased by doctors at the Menandro de Farias General Hospital, in the northeastern city of Salvador, and his body taken to the morgue. But when his brother came to help get the body ready for the funeral, instead of a corpse he found a wriggling body bag.
“We had already made all the arrangements for my brother's funeral,” Goncalves' brother Walterio said, according to the Daily Mail. “All I needed to do was put some new clothes on him, so he'd be ready for the undertaker to come and collect him.”
“Workers at the morgue let me in, and showed me where he was lying, in a zipped-up body bag,” he added. “But as I got closer, I could see it wriggling.”
After seeing the rising and falling of his breath, the not-so-deceased's brother said he “went crazy” shouting for a medical team to check him and make sure that he was actually alive ... which to the surprise of hospital staff it turned out he was.
Goncalves was being treated for stomach cancer and woke up Saturday morning complaining that he was having trouble breathing before being taken to the hospital.
“We were worried about him and thought he'd be better off in a hospital, that they'd take better care of him than we could at home,” his niece Patricia Cintra said. “It was a shock to all of us when they called to tell us he'd passed away. But we started making the funeral arrangements.”
With a death notice already paid for in the local newspaper, Goncalves had his ears and nose stuffed with cotton and his feet tied together when he rejoined the land of the living. He was quickly rushed into hospital’s intensive care unit until he was moved to another medical facility at the request of the family.
Apparently his brief stint in the afterlife made a big impression on Goncalves, as he wrote in a letter – he can’t speak – that he was brought back from the dead by Blessed Irma Dulce, a Franciscan Sister who is revered as a saint with miraculous powers in Brazil.
“I, Valdelucio, saw death at my feet, but my faith was so great that I was cured,” he wrote. “Before Irma Dulce I said, do a miracle in me, and she heard my prayer. I saw my mother telling me, son, hold onto her and you will be saved.”
The medical team at the hospital in Salvador better start praying to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, that they keep their jobs — the health department for the state of Bahia has already opened an inquiry into the blunder.