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13th Jun 2023

‘Dead’ woman found alive and breathing inside her coffin at her own funeral

Steve Hopkins

‘My mother started to move the left hand, open her eyes, the mouth’

An elderly woman made a real scene ahead of her own funeral last week, when five hours after she had passed away mourners realised she was still alive.

Bella Montoya was declared dead following a suspected stroke and a service was held to remember the Ecuadorean on Friday.

According to a report by the BBC, the 76-year-old’s relatives were preparing to change her clothes ahead of the burial and found her gasping for air.

As expected, the funeral was halted, and Bella was taken to hospital – the same one that declared her dead.

She remains there in intensive care.

Ecuador’s health ministry has set up a committee to investigate the incident.

In a statement, the ministry said that the woman had gone into cardiorespiratory arrest – a loss of breathing and heart function – and did not respond to resuscitation attempts. Her death was then confirmed by a doctor.

Local media quoted Bella’s son, Gilber Rodolfo Balberán Montoya, as saying that his mum had been “admitted around 09:00, and at noon a doctor told me [she] died”.

Bella was then placed in a coffin for several hours ahead of her burial.

Balberán, told local news outlet El Universo: “My mother started to move the left hand, open her eyes, the mouth. She was making an effort to breathe.”

Footage posted on social media shows Bella gasping for air as people gather around her coffin.

Paramedics were then seen observing Bella’s vital signs before transferring her to the nearest medical facility.

AFP news agency quoted Balberán as saying: “Little by little, I am grasping what has happened. Now I only pray for my mother’s health to improve. I want her alive and by my side.”

The Daily Mail reports that Balberán will be filing an incident report with the local prosecutor’s office and accuse the hospital of negligence.

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