A 'dead' Siberian grandmother who was just minutes away from being cut open for an autopsy 'came back to life' not once, but twice, in a story that has captivated Russians.
Lyudmila Steblitskaya, a 61-year-old retired cook from Tomsk, has twice been declared dead by doctors. The first time, back in November 2011, Lyudmila was admitted to Tomsk Regional Clinical Hospital after complaining that she didn't feel well. When daughter Anastasia Steblitskaya, 29, called the hospital to check on her mother, a staff member informed her that Lyudmila was dead.
"My world just went blank," Lyudmila told the Siberian Times. "I knew she was ill but I was shattered. I don't remember my father, and my elder brother had tragically left us, so mum was the only relative on the planet, the only close blood. And now she was gone."
Devastated, Anastasia began making preparations for her mother's funeral. She informed friends and family and spent 60,000 roubles (nearly $2,000) on a casket, grave digging and food for the mourners who would attend the funeral.
Three days after being informed of Lyudmila's death, Anastasia went to the hospital to collect her body. But staff told her the autopsy had not yet been performed, and that she should wait a while. While she was waiting, a doctor came out and told her that her mother had 'come back to life' and was in her bed, breathing.
"I felt like I was going mad," Anastasia recalled. "My hands started to shake."
Anastasia rushed to her mother's room in disbelief.
"In the bed was my mother. Alive. She breathed, and moved. She smiled at me, and called my name," Anastasia said. "I can't explain it, but I rushed out of the room... and screamed. It must be the shock; I don't know why I did that. I guess it was the image of her grave in my mind, and the coffin, and then her smiling, which just sent me into a kind of madness."
Anastasia then found herself canceling her mother's funeral and calling friends and relatives to tell them the good news.
But two months ago, Lyudmila once again found herself in the hospital with heart trouble. And once again, she 'died.' But unlike in 2011, when she spent three days in a freezing morgue, doctors were able to revive her after a few hours.
Asked about how such a mishap could have happened, Maksim Zayukov, chief doctor at Tomsk Regional Clinical Hospital, told the Siberian Times that he could "not explain why this mistake happened."
"This sad procedure has always worked in our hospital like clockwork: the moment of death is always registered by the intensive care doctor," Zayukov said. "Proper checks are always conducted. This all happens before the family are informed of the death."
This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened. Last year, 49-year-old Russian woman Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, who was presumed dead, woke up in her coffin at her own funeral. Sadly, the shock of being on the brink of being buried alive was too much for her to bear and she dropped dead of a heart attack a few minutes later.
Earlier this year, 28-year-old Egyptian Hamdi Hafez al-Nubi also 'woke from the dead' at his own funeral. The waiter had suffered a heart attack at work, but tears became cheers as he 'came back to life' right before being buried.
Also this year, Liu Xiufeng, a 95-year-old Chinese woman, climbed out of her own coffin six days after she was declared dead from a head injury suffered during a fall.