Doctor Finds Pulse on Dead Body Just Before Autopsy

A man in India who was declared brain-dead and then medically dead following a road accident was found to have a pulse right before the doctor started the official autopsy. The mix-up, however, is more likely due to medical negligence than a medical miracle.

Himanshu Bharadwaj suffered a serious head injury following a motorcycle accident on Monday in Chhindwara, India, News18 reported. At a local hospital, the 24-year-old was declared brain-dead, a term used to describe a patient who no longer has any neurological activity in the brain or the brainstem, Live Science reported. This means the patient no longer has electrical impulses sent between brain cells.

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After being declared brain-dead, Bharadwaj was sent to a private hospital that then declared him medically dead as he reportedly had no pulse and showed no signs of life, LiveMint reported.

The patient’s body was then taken to the morgue in preparation for an autopsy the next day. However, according to The Economic Times, an attendant in the morgue noticed movement in Bharadwaj’s body bag and alerted a doctor. The doctor then found a pulse on the patient, and further tests showed that Bharadwaj was still alive.  

03_07_corpse The body was on its way to the autopsy table. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Bharadwaj is reportedly still receiving treatment for his condition. The family thinks that medical negligence was originally behind the mix-up, but it’s not clear yet if action will be taken against the hospital where the mistake was made.

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This case is reminiscent of another in Spain earlier this year where a “dead” man’s snore on the autopsy table alerted doctors that he was still alive, La Voz de Asturias reported. His death certificate had been signed by three doctors, but the patient's family thinks that medical negligence caused his case to slip through the cracks, inevitably leading to this mix-up.