'Dead' woman found breathing in coffin

Mourners at the wake of an Ecuadorean woman were shocked to discover she was still alive. A hospital doctor in Babahoyo had declared Bella Montoya, 76, died following a suspected stroke. She was placed in a coffin and taken to a funeral parlor, where relatives held a vigil before her planned burial. When, after almost five hours, they opened the casket to change her clothes, the woman gasped for air. "My mum started to move her left hand, to open her eyes, her mouth; she struggled to breathe," her son Gilbert Balberán described when he realized his mother was still alive. Video taken by a mourner shows her lying in an open coffin struggling to breathe, while another complains that an ambulance they called has not yet arrived. Minutes later, firefighters arrived, lifted Bella Montoya onto a stretcher, and took her back to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her son told Ecuadorean media that she was in intensive care but was responsive.

The incident has raised questions about the standards of care at the hospital where Bella Montoya was pronounced dead. It has also highlighted the importance of being vigilant when attending wakes and funerals and of calling for help immediately if you suspect someone may still be alive.


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