A premature baby born in a hospital in Brazil was reportedly sent to the morgue while still alive. The child later died after the staff was unable to revive him, Brazillian news network Globo reports.
According to a translation by The Huffington Post, the baby's father, Gilmar de Farias, told the news outlet that his son was declared stillborn and spent three hours in the morgue at Hospital Anna Fiorillo Menarin, located in Castro, Paraná. But, de Farias claimed, his mother-in-law later went to see the child and noticed he was still alive.
"Out of nowhere, another nurse appeared and told me the child had been born dead. So I was beside myself," de Farias told Globo. "He said that if we wanted, we could see the baby in the morgue. So I spoke with my wife and went to the location. I didn't see anything strange and really believed that he [the baby] was dead. I was really sad. After, my mother-in-law also wanted to see and told me that he was breathing."
A representative for the hospital told Globo that an investigation would be conducted.
Though such mistakes are no doubt rare, similar tragedies have occurred before.
As the Associated Press reported last April, a premature newborn in Argentina was mistakenly sent to the morgue while still alive. The baby was declared dead, and her parents said they were given a death certificate just 20 minutes later. The infant then spent 12 hours in a sealed coffin, but when her mother went to say goodbye to her, she saw the baby shaking and realized she was alive. The baby survived.
Edward Bell, a doctor who specializes in premature infants, told the AP at the time that detecting vital signs can be more complicated than it might seem. When a person's metabolism and heartbeat slow down, sometimes the body can stop moving and make him or her appear dead.
In 2010, an Australian mother of premature twins was told her son was dead soon after she birthed him. As Today Moms reported, however, several minutes after the baby was laid on his mother's chest, he started moving. Susan Ludington, a nurse researcher with Case Western Reserve University, suspected that the baby's heartbeat might have been too faint to detect.
In yet another case over the summer, a mother was told by her doctors that her baby had died in utero. Though Alex Jones was informed that her baby would be stillborn, the baby was delivered at 24 weeks -- alive and breathing -- and placed in intensive care.