A 76-year-old woman who had been declared dead, and surprised her relatives by knocking on her coffin during her wake earlier this month, has died after seven days in intensive care, her family said Saturday.

Gilberto Barbera Montoya, the woman’s son, told The Associated Press that doctors at the state hospital where she was rushed after the initial incident said that she died on Friday evening.

Bella Montoya initially had been admitted with a possible stroke and cardiopulmonary arrest, and when she did not respond to resuscitation a doctor on duty declared her dead, the ministry said.

On June 9, Montoya reportedly woke up and started knocking after spending five hours inside her coffin at a funeral home in Babahoyo, southwest of Quito.

Similar events have happened in the United States recently. In December an Iowa care facility mistakenly pronounced a 66-year-old resident dead and had her transported to a funeral home, where she woke up “gasping for air.”  In 2020, a young woman who was declared dead opened her eyes as she was about to be embalmed.

Ecuador’s health ministry confirmed in a statement Saturday that Montoya died from an ischemic stroke after spending a week in intensive care. It added that Montoya had remained under “permanent surveillance,” but didn’t provide further information on the medical investigation surrounding the case.

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Barbera Montoya said that he hadn’t yet received any report from the authorities on the medical explanation of what happened, and warned that things “are not going to stay like this.” He added that a sister of the deceased woman had formally complained about the incident, seeking to identify the doctor who declared her dead to begin with.

The remains of Montoya, who was a retired nurse, are back at the same funeral home where she woke up. Her son told the AP that she will be buried at a public cemetery.

A technical committee has been formed to review how the hospital issues death certificates, the country’s ministry of health said last week.


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