A man in a Spanish prison was already declared dead and was being readied to be autopsied when he began to snore, alerting doctors that he was still alive.
Gonzalo Montoya Jimenez was found unconscious in his cell on Sunday at around 8 a.m. and three forensic doctors who saw him all declared him dead. He was even estimated to be dead for four hours, and as his body was being readied for an autopsy. His body even had the marks painted on it to guide the autopsy. But before the procedure could begin, Montoya Jimenez surprised everyone when he started snoring on the autopsy table.
He has since regained consciousness and is in the intensive care unit at the Central University Hospital of Asturias in Oviedo, Spain.
Jimenez’s family said that he has epilepsy and that could help explain the strange occurrence of him being mistakenly declared dead. Some people with epilepsy indeed can experience a condition called catalepsy, or a trancelike state in which their muscles turn rigid and they become unresponsive to stimuli.
There are no universal guidelines to determine exactly when someone is already dead. Dr. James Bernat, a neurologist at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire said: ‘’You’re dead when a doctor says you’re dead.”
In most circumstances, however, a person may be declared dead when the heart stops beating and doesn’t start again, or they are “brain-dead.” A person is considered brain-dead when he or she no longer has any neurological activity in the brain stem or when no electrical impulses are being sent between brain cells.