Iowa Woman Sent to Funeral Home in Body Bag Found to Be Alive

A care home is facing a fine of $10,000 after a 66-year-old was pronounced dead and transported to a funeral home only to awake gasping for air, according to reports.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Health Facilities released a report on February 1 detailing the peculiar incident.

The resident, who wasn't identified, had been staying at the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center in Urbandale, Iowa, since December 2021.

Funeral Home
Close-up of dead body feet at morgue or hospital with toe label or information ring and identification blank tag. A care home is facing a fine of $10,000 after a 66-year-old was pronounced dead and was transported to a funeral home only to wake up gasping for air. Getty

She was moved into hospice care at the same facility on December 28, 2022, due to a "senile degeneration of the brain," according to a CBS News report.

The report also highlighted the woman's health condition in the days prior to her mistakenly being pronounced dead.

The 66-year-old, identified in the report as Resident 1, was recorded by staff members of having labored breathing and "diminished" lung sound as well as minor seizures.

She was pronounced dead at 6 a.m. on January 3, 2023, and her family were called as the care home obtained orders from a licensed physician to release the body to a funeral home.

The report also detailed how the nurse, identified as Staff C, came to the incorrect conclusion the woman had passed away.

The report said: "Staff C reported the resident's eyes were open. She felt her neck at the carotid artery and listened to her chest. She did not feel a pulse and the resident was not breathing at that time. She felt the resident had passed away and notified the nurse.

The report states: "The Funeral Director arrived at the facility to pick up Resident 1 at approximately 7:38 a.m.

"A second licensed practical nurse and the Funeral Director placed Resident 1's body on the gurney inside a cloth bag and zipped it shut."

No signs of Life

Following an interview after the incident, the report stated that both individuals said that at this time there was no signs of life.

The report continued: "At approximately 8:26 a.m. funeral home staff unzipped the bag and observed Resident 1's chest was moving and she was gasping for air. The funeral home then called 911 and hospice."

When emergency services arrived at the funeral home they were able to find a pulse and confirm she was breathing, however there was no eye movement and no verbal response from the 66-year-old.

She was returned to the care facility the same day and died a few days later on January 5 in the early morning with her family at her side.

The facility's executive director, Lisa Eastman, spoke to CBS News about the incident.

"We have been in close communication with the family of the resident, and we just completed an investigation by the Department of Inspections and Appeals regarding the matter.

"We care deeply for our residents and remain fully committed to supporting their end-of-life care. All employees undergo regular training so they can best support of end-of-life care and the death of our residents."

Newsweek has contacted the Glen Oaks Alzheimer's Special Care Center for comment.