81-Year-Old Pronounced Dead Found Alive Hours Later in Russian Morgue

An elderly woman in Russia was found alive at a morgue hours after being declared dead before she was transferred there from a local hospital.

Zinaida Kononova, 81, who underwent surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction on August 14, was pronounced dead after she failed to respond to resuscitation efforts following the operation.

Kononova's niece, Tatyana Kulikova, was told her aunt had been recorded as clinically deceased for 15 minutes, Fr24 News reported.

Local authorities in the Kursk region of western Russia, where Kononova is currently being treated, confirmed that "a woman hospitalized in the Gorshechensky Central Regional Hospital woke up in the morgue, where she was sent after she was pronounced dead in a regional hospital," Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The chief physician at the hospital where Kononova had surgery, Roman Kondratenko, has been suspended pending an investigation, Fr24 News reported.

At 1:10 a.m. local time, Kononova was taken to the morgue and nearly seven hours later, a morgue worker was shocked to find the 81-year-old fallen on the floor after she'd attempted to get off the morgue table, Fr24 News reported.

The worker was reportedly heard saying: "Grandma, go to bed, grandma, shut up," according to a paramedic who entered the building at the time of the incident.

The paramedic believed the worker had gone "mad" before he reportedly witnessed the woman reach out to grab the worker's hand, Fr24 News reported.

The pensioner was covered in blankets and rushed back to hospital where a team of doctors from the regional capital Kursk was deployed to treat her. She was later transferred to a hospital in Kursk for further treatment, according to the regional administration.

Kononova's niece was contacted by a senior doctor who told her: "We have an unusual situation. She [your aunt] is alive."

Kulikova noted: "At first she didn't recognize me or remember that she had had an operation. But she spoke about her old knee problem."

As grateful as she was to know her aunt was alive, Kulikova asked doctors: "How could this have happened?"

Acting hospital chief Alexander Vlasov explained: "For 30 minutes the patient [Kononova] underwent resuscitation measures," to which she did not respond, he noted.

"As a result, the resuscitator established biological death," he said.

Kononova was reportedly sent to the morgue an hour and 20 minutes after she was declared dead, instead of two hours later, as per required protocol, according to a doctor and anesthesiologist at the hospital, Fr24 News reported.

"The anesthesiologist is very worried. She feels very bad and we are afraid for her," Vlasov told Fr24 News.

"Everybody makes mistakes. What will happen next with the career of this anesthesiologist is still a question," he added.

Kononova's relatives are reported to be planning to sue to the hospital, according to Fr24 News.

In 2018, a prisoner in Spain woke up on the morgue table shortly before his planned autopsy after having been declared dead by three separate doctors.

Moscow hospital April 2020
An ambulance drives into a hopital in Moscow on April 14, 2020. Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images