'Dead' man wakes up in US funeral home

WASHINGTON - A 78-year-old American farmer who was declared dead and taken to a funeral home dramatically woke up as he was about to be embalmed, US media reports said yesterday.

Mr Walter Williams was registered dead last Wednesday evening after medics failed to find his pulse.

A hospice nurse called the coroner for Holmes County, Mississippi, Mr Dexter Howard, who checked Mr Williams' pulse at about 9pm and pronounced him dead, a CNN report said.

"There was no pulse. He was lifeless," Mr Howard was quoted as saying.

The body was then placed in a body bag and transported to the Porters and Sons Funeral Home in Lexington, Mississippi.

There, the body bag moved.

"We got him into the embalming room and we noticed his legs beginning to move, like kicking," Mr Howard said. "He also began to do a little breathing."

An ambulance was called. Paramedics arrived and hooked Mr Williams up to monitors and discovered he had a heartbeat. They rushed him to a hospital.

"They were in shock. I was in shock. I think everybody at the hospital was in shock," Mr Howard told CNN.

He said it was possible that Mr Williams' defibrillator, implanted beneath the skin on his chest, had jump-started his heart after he was placed in the body bag.

Mr Howard, an elected official who does not have a medical degree, said he had never seen anything like this in his 12 years as county coroner and a decade as deputy coroner.

"The bottom line is, it's a miracle," he told CNN.

Recovering at the hospital yesterday, Mr Williams was reported to be still "a little weak" but was surrounded by family members and talking.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.