Man died and came back to life in a rare case of Lazarus Syndrome

By Calvin Palmer

A 23-year-old man pronounced dead by doctors came back to life 30 minutes later in what is known as the Lazarus Syndrome. Only 38 such cases are known in the world.

Michael Wilkinson, of Preston, northwest England, was taken to hospital when his mother found him collapsed in bed after an evening when he had enjoyed a number of drinks with his family.

Doctors at the Royal Preston Hospital failed to revive Wilkinson and he was pronounced dead. But half an hour later his pulse returned and he was transferred to the intensive care unit.

The inquest at Preston Magistrates Court today was told that Wilkinson, a roofer,  lived another two days before dying on February 3 of cardiac arrest.

His mother, Susan Horrigan, 44, said at the time: “It was as if he had been taken away from me, then given back only to be taken away again.”

A post mortem carried out at the Royal Blackburn Hospital found he had an undiagnosed heart condition, in which his left ventrical had become abnormally thickened. Alcohol was ruled out as a factor in his death.

John Whittaker, a consultant in the A&E dept at Royal Preston Hospital, said Michael’s pulse restarting was probably due to the drugs he had been given.

He said: “When we pronounce anyone dead that is not a small thing, you make absolutely certain.

“The decision to pronounce him dead was because we had worked on him for 15 minutes and come to the end of what we could do.”

He added: “There is a phenomenon known as Lazarus Syndrome. It is incredibly rare – I’ve been a doctor 27 years and have seen it once. There have only been 38 cases of this ever in the world.”

Assistant deputy coroner for Preston Derek Baker recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

[Based on reports by the Lancashire Evening Post and The Daily Telegraph.]

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