Woman Mistaken for Dead Spends 11 Hours in Morgue Cold Storage

A Polish woman spent a full 11 hours in a cold storage drawer in a mortuary after doctors declared her dead. Janina Kolkiewicz, a 91-year-old dementia patient, returned home complaining of being cold.

Luckily, she was met at home with a bowl of soup and two pancakes from her relieved family, BBC reports. Doctors and her family were both in shock following the revelation.

Kolkiewicz was declared dead by their family doctor, Dr. Wieslawa Czyz, who was called to the family’s home in the eastern Polish town of Ostrow Lubelski by the woman’s niece. She woke up to find her aunt did not seem to be breathing or have a pulse.

After examining her, Czyz declared the woman dead and wrote out a death certificate.

“I was sure she was dead,” Czyz said. “I’m stunned, I don’t understand what happened. Her heart had stopped beating, she was no longer breathing.”

She was taken to a nearby mortuary and placed in cold storage while preparations were made for her funeral. Later in the day, however, mortuary staff reported that the woman was not dead, as they noticed movement inside her body bag while it was in storage.

Kolkiewicz feels normal after returning home, and has no concept of how close she was to being buried alive.

“My aunt has no inkling of what happened since she has late-stage dementia,” said Bogumila Kolkiewicz, her niece.