In a typical modern-day Lazarus who “came back from the dead”, a Harare woman woke up in a mortuary after staff at Harare Hospital erroneously signed her off for dead and shipped her to the morgue where she lay among the departed.
by Phyllis Mbanje
Her story defies all logic but apparently she is not the only one who has been declared dead when in actual fact it was merely a question of a weak pulse.
Although it has been months since the incident, *Charity is haunted by the memories of that day but strives to be at peace with what happened to her.
“I had been admitted to Harare Hospital after collapsing due to profuse bleeding. It was recommended that I go into surgery for a dilation and curettage (D&C),” she said.
A D&C is a simple procedure of cleansing the womb. Suspicious growths get snipped out, and the uterus wall is scraped to make sure nothing is lingering.
It is also recommended for women who would have suffered a miscarriage to ensure any left overs like the placenta are taken out.
It requires anaesthesia, but the patient can go home that day and return to work the next.
However, for Charity the process went horribly wrong.
“When I was wheeled into the theatre I was weak from the bleeding and when an anaesthesia was given I did not go under,” she said.
“This prompted the anaesthetist to give me another shot. I was dizzy but could hear them conversing among themselves. They could not understand why it was not working.”
They bickered for a while and finally she passed out.
Hours later she woke up feeling a chilling sensation in her body.
“I was so, so cold. My whole body felt like ice and my body parts numb. I was still weak and could not move much but I realised I was lying on what I later learnt was a mortuary tray,” recalls Charity.
Painfully, she turned her head and saw someone lying close to her.
“I noticed the beard first and thought the staff had put me in a male ward by mistake. Instinctively I tried to cover myself with the sheet because I was stark naked,” she recalled.
As she became fully conscious, it suddenly dawned on her that she was actually in the mortuary.
“I panicked. My breath was caught in my throat and I tried to scream but no sound came out.”
What was going through her mind?
“All sorts of things. Just the thought of being in the mortuary is mortifying enough without conjuring up images from horror movies,” she said.
When a mortuary attendant walked in, Charity groaned loudly.
“on realising I was alive, the attendant wheeled me from the mortuary to the general wards. No one apologised, it was just treated like a normal case. When I enquired from a doctor the next morning he laughed it off.”
Charity believes she survived the cold by divine intervention. How has the experience changed her?
“I celebrate each day and do not take life for granted. It is very easy to die but I was spared. I have a lot to celebrate and will not dwell on what-ifs,” she said
“I am just grateful to have been given another chance to live…only God will determine when my last day will be.”
Charity, however, has decided not to press any charges against the institution preferring to let the matter die.
* Not her real name