An Ecuadoran woman who was pronounced dead of COVID-19 suddenly woke up in the hospital, to the delight and relief of relatives who had identified someone else’s body like hers and had it cremated.
Alba Maruri, 74, was hospitalized in March in Guayaquil, the Ecuadoran city hardest hit by the pandemic, with fever and trouble breathing.
She lost consciousness for three weeks and was declared dead on March 27, relatives said.
A week later, her family was shown a corpse in the hospital morgue, but for fear of coronavirus, contagion did not get close to it. The body was on its side, with the back showing, not the face.
Maruri’s nephew Jaime Morla said he thought it was his aunt and told hospital officials it was.
“I was afraid to see her face,” he told AFP.
“I was a meter and a half away. She had the same hair, the same skin tone. She even had a wound like one my aunt had recently,” Morla said.
That body was taken to a funeral home and cremated.
Maruri regained consciousness Thursday and told doctors who she was and had them call her sister Aura.
“The doctors went to my aunt’s house to corroborate and inform them of the mistake,” said another nephew, Juan Carlos Ramirez.
“They still do not know whose ashes they have in their house,” he added.
The family plans to sue the hospital to recover the cremation fee they paid and for the distress caused by the mix-up.
The sister told Ecuadoran news outlets that hospital officials visited her Friday and told her that her sister was well and about to be released.
“It is a miracle. For nearly a month we thought she was dead. Imagine.
“And I have someone else’s ashes,” said Aura.
Authorities in the port city of Guayaquil have recorded more than 22,000 cases of coronavirus, including 576 deaths.
The government says there are an additional 1,060 probable COVID-19 deaths.
Ecuador is Latin America’s hardest-hit country after Brazil.