Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead 'Gasped for Air' In Body Bag at Funeral Home

The Glen Oaks Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Urbandale, Iowa is facing a $10,000 fine after sending a woman they presumed was dead to a funeral home … while she was still alive.

According to a report from The Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals (via KCCI), a 66-year-old woman who was placed in hospice care in late-December was pronounced dead by a nurse practitioner at the facility on January 3.

The nurse practitioner reportedly could not find a pulse and said the patient — who had early-onset dementia, anxiety and depression — wasn’t breathing.

“At 6:00 a.m. Resident #1’s mouth was open, her eyes were fixed, and there were no breath sounds,” said the report (per CNN). “[The nurse] was unable to locate Resident #1’s apical pulse using her stethoscope. She placed her hand on Resident #1’s abdomen and noted no movement.”

In the report, per NBC 10, the nurse observed the woman for five minutes before declaring her dead. A funeral home director then came to pick up the body about an hour later and, with the help of another nurse practitioner, placed the woman into a body bag.

Neither the funeral director or second nurse witnessed any signs of life — but all that changed when she arrived at the Ankeny Funeral Home & Crematory.

“At approximately 8:26 a.m., funeral home staff unzipped the bag and observed Resident #1’s chest moving and she gasped for air,” read the report. While the woman had a pulse and was breathing, she was unresponsive. The funeral home then called 9-1-1.

A first responder at the scene can be heard reacting to the surprising discovery in the video above, telling dispatch, “Um, just so you know, this female was transported there deceased and she is NOT.”

The woman was taken to the hospital, before returning to hospice care, where she died surrounded by family less than two days later on January 5.

The Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals issued a violation to Glen Oaks for failing “to provide adequate direction to ensure appropriate [care] and services were provided.” Criminal charges are not being pursued.

The Glen Oaks executive director Lisa Eastman said the “care deeply for our residents and remain full committed to supporting their end-of-life care” in a statement. She added, “All employees undergo regular training so they can best support end-of-life care and the death of our residents.”

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