Woman discovers her husband is still alive after doctors declare him dead

Oct 15, 2015 at 1:58 p.m. ET
Image: ERproductions Ltd/Getty Images

It's hard to imagine something more awful than losing one's spouse. So losing him or her twice in the same day is beyond even our wildest nightmare. But that's exactly what happened to one woman in Buffalo, New York.

Tammy Cleveland is suing the hospital where her husband died, claiming the doctors declared him dead despite the fact that she could see him breathing. The doctor in charge, Dr. Gregory Perry, claims that Michael Cleveland was dead and "just had a lot of energy to expel from his body."

Cleveland says her husband was breathing and even tried to hug her, and that when the coroner came in, he asked her to call him back when he actually died. He officially died a few hours later. There really are no words for the horror.

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What's worse is that Mr. Cleveland was young. Just 46. He had a heart attack in the grocery store. Doctors say he may have survived the heart attack itself and that what actually killed him was the punctured lung he suffered during attempts at CPR. He was transferred to another hospital, where doctors explained the situation to his wife. Understandably she is now suing.

This tragedy is just unimaginable, but we all know that doctors are hardly infallible. A story like this makes us realize just how much we rely on these people who may or may not know what they are doing. The problem, of course, comes when they make mistakes and then insist that they did not.

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So how can we avoid something like this? In an emergency, we don't have a lot of choice in terms of the doctors we get. But in a nonemergency, it is important to choose doctors who look at us as people. It's important to choose doctors who ask questions and aren't afraid to dig deeper and look closer.

Only then will we avoid tragic mistakes like this. Physician, heal thyself. You don't know everything. No one does.

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