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Woman Declared Dead, Still Breathing in Morgue

Judith Johnson went to the Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware for what she thought was a bad case of indigestion.

An hour after being admitted, the hospital told Johnson’s husband his wife was dead, Wilmington's News Journal reported Tuesday.

When someone at the morgue noticed Johnson’s “corpse” was still breathing, Louis Johnson learned his wife was very much alive.

The Johnsons are now suing the hospital and medical staff for compensatory and punitive damages.

“She is brain injured, but can walk and talk,” the Johnson’s attorney, Dr. Leon Aussprung told The News Journal.

Judith Johnson, 61, of Georgetown, Del., was actually having a heart attack when she arrived at the hospital in May 2007. Less than 45 minutes after she arrived, she went into cardiac arrest.

She was given "multiple medicines and synchronized shocks," according to emergency room records, which also indicate she was not given supplemental oxygen. The records also say she "never regained a pulse," and was declared dead at 8:34 p.m.

Johnson now suffers from liver damage, chest pain, memory loss, speech problems, and a change in personality, seizures, and permanent neurological injury as a result of the care she received at Beebe Medical Center, according to the lawsuit.

Beebe medical officials did not directly comment on the lawsuit.

“The situation that you described, while rare, is not unheard of,” said Wallace Hudson, Beebe’s vice president of corporate affairs. “It is called spontaneous return of circulation, otherwise known as ‘Lazarus syndrome. Medical literature points out that since 1982, there have been at least 25 reported cases of survival after failed resuscitation.”

Click here to read more from The News Journal.