Postmortem workers were surprised to discover a corpse twitched on May 1.
Funeral home employees in mainland China arguably experienced the biggest shock of their lives after a deceased older man suddenly moved.
A video that went viral on the internet shows the harrowing moment at least three morgue staffers loaded the body into a van and opened the yellow body bag to inspect its contents.
“[He is] alive, did you see that? Alive!” one of the workers wearing protective clothing said in the video shared on Twitter.
His colleague verifies the man in his 70s is breathing and directs others not to zip up the bag.
“Do not cover him again,” the unidentified employee says.
The trio immediately pulls the body bag out of the van, places it onto a trolley, and wheels it back into Shanghai Xinchangzheng Nursing Home. Morticians contacted aged care administrators to inform them their outgoing resident was still alive despite officially being declared dead.
上海新长征福利院把还活着的老人装进尸袋，要送去殡仪馆火化，被运尸体的殡仪馆工作人员发现：“活的！”看来这是嫌上海老人死得还不够多，烧死活人不算死于新冠就行。 pic.twitter.com/O6Zn5qV76L— 方舟子 (@fangshimin) May 1, 2022
An ambulance later arrived and transported the older man to the hospital for emergency treatment.
The footage was viewed more than 206,400 times, liked 1,972 times, and retweeted 690 times at the time of publication.
The Putuo District Bureau of Civil Affairs confirmed the patient’s vital signs were stable. Investigations were underway to determine precisely how the aged care facility misdiagnosed the elderly man as dead.
Officials promised to take the accident seriously and disclose findings when they are ready to be announced.
The Shanghai Supervisory Commission and Central Commission for Discipline Inspection revealed that the nursing home director and three district officials from the civil affairs bureau and social development office have temporarily stood down.
The bureau director is still under investigation. Authorities have revoked certification from the doctor responsible, known as Tian, who also faces a public security probe.
The nursing home has since apologized and praised those who reported the resident was still alive. Facility management rewarded each individual with a 5,000 yuan ($747.70) bonus, which roughly equates to a worker’s average monthly wage, according to the Statista website.
One of the people, who filmed the video from a nearby building, described the aged care facility in question as a “mess.”
“They sent a living person on a hearse and said they were dead,” he said, according to CNN.
“The undertaker staff said they were still moving [and] … it is irresponsible, really irresponsible.”
After watching the video, YouTuber Fang Zhouzi accused multiple aged care facilities of using the pandemic as an excuse to deliberately misdiagnose and cremate residents.
“Shanghai New Long March Welfare Institute put the still alive old man in a body bag and sent it to a funeral home for cremation,” he said on Twitter.
“The funeral home staff who was transporting the body found out, ‘Alive!’ It seems that this is because the elderly in Shanghai have not died enough and burned alive [plus] people do not have to die from the new crown,” he added.
The footage similarly drew sharp criticism from Shanghai residents who have endured harsh lockdowns since March 2022.
“Care homes and nursing homes will be the last places for many elderly people, especially some lonely elderly people who have no choice,” a resident said according to The Guardian.
“Who would dare send their parents to a care home now, and who would dare to live in a nursing home with peace of mind?” the resident added.
One commentator shuddered at the thought of what would have happened if nobody had checked whether the aged care resident was dead.
“What if this incident was not captured by the citizens of Shanghai?” a commentator said, according to the publication.
On the Chinese Weibo social network, several users complained about alleged elder abuse across the Paris of the East.
“Problems in Shanghai are fully exposed this time,” one person commented, according to CNN.
“This counts as intentional homicide,” another user added.
Others speculated the aged care resident would have been burned alive if none of the morticians had spoken up immediately.
“The government does not care … what is going on in Shanghai?” one user commented according to CNN.
“This is murder,” one user added according to Bloomberg News. “The confidence crisis in the city is getting too bad.”
Health system struggles
CNBC Beijing bureau chief Eunice Yoon revealed the nation’s primary healthcare network is failing to cope with the soaring number of infections.
“The video shocked China as a sign of how overwhelmed the medical care system has become amid the country’s widening Covid–19 crisis,” she said on Twitter.
“He’s alive!” a morgue worker explains while taking an elderly man mistaken for dead in a body bag back to a nursing facility in #Shanghai.— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) May 3, 2022
The video shocked #China as a sign of how overwhelmed the medical care system has become amid the country’s widening #COVID19 crisis. https://t.co/4L5nwAxtha
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) strict zero-COVID strategy has already forced more than 37 million people into isolation.
Although two volunteers from each apartment building are permitted to spend two hours a day shopping for groceries, many have complained about chronic supply shortages and feeling malnourished. There have also been reports of residents having to barter for certain kinds of food, hunt around for bread, loot supermarkets and resort to civil disobedience.
Several residents ended their lives in desperation to escape the pain and suffering inflicted by harsh CCP virus mandates.
In one video, an individual is dangling from a high-rise building window in Shanghai. Then, finally, he releases his grip and plunges nearly 30 stories to his death.
More footage shows someone falling backward out of a fifth-story window and crashing head-first onto the grass below. A bystander runs over to check for vital signs and offers first-aid to the fatally injured person. According to the Quora website, landing on the head can cause instant death in most cases.
Other images seemingly depict a woman falling 10 floors. She lands on her bottom and lies motionless on the concrete pavement as startled bystanders watch the tragedy unfold. Then, in a different video, a man jumps off the top of a 20-story building with extended arms. He tumbles in the air before finally landing on his back. A bystander covers his ears and walks away from the scene.
In other footage, a man crouches on a ledge before jumping off. He falls about seven floors before landing feet-first on the sidewalk below. A woman exits a nearby shop to see what happened after hearing a loud thump outside the premises.
Different videos show a woman clinging onto a balcony as her neighbors gather on the ledge below. Then, finally, she releases her grip, and at least two neighbors unsuccessfully try to catch her as she plunges to the ground.
A team of four city officials wearing hazmat suits put the motionless woman into a black body bag before transporting her to a nearby coroner’s office.
A separate video shows a Shanghai man, who claims to be a worker, begging truck drivers to pull over and feed him.
“Shanghai people, not one person cares about us [so please] take care of us [and] expose this! Help me expose this: I am a worker; I am going to starve to death!” he said, according to The Guardian.
Some close contacts who tested negative complained about being transported to quarantine camps in neighboring Anhui province, nearly 250 miles from home.
“Police told us that there were too many positive cases in our compound and, if we carried on living here, we would all become infected,” a resident known only as Lucy said, according to News Limited. “We had no choice.”
Other patients previously criticized converted schools, apartment blocks, and other quarantine centers for being overcrowded and unsanitary.
Photos shared online seemingly show older adults in wheelchairs, wearing face masks and protective gear. They arrive by bus outside a quarantine center. Other pictures depict babies or loved ones over 90 years old transported to makeshift hospitals in the dark of night.
Chinese health experts urged CCP officials to explain precisely how zero transmission outside quarantined areas is defined.
China Center for Disease Control and Prevention chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou indicated that zero transmission might mean there are no “freely active” cases in the general population.
Authorities have also been accused of failing to record CCP virus fatalities in the death count. As a result, at least one grieving Shanghai family claims their loved one died from the disease. Still, authorities did not add the case to official statistics, raising questions about the accuracy of official data.
Tension is boiling even from within the CCP’s ranks. Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan earlier visited Shanghai to criticize local authorities for “lying flat” and creating chaos in disease prevention.
Minhang District People’s Congress Rep. Yang Hai separately urged everyone to boycott nucleic acid testing methods on behalf of community volunteers.
The former Aerospace Factory party committee secretary claimed Pingyang Liucun residents had 13 nucleic acid tests and nine rapid antigen tests since March 13. However, the number of infections continues to rise in tandem with the number of patients tested, leading Yang to suspect possible cross-infection from frequent testing.
He also complained about “opaque and inaccurate” updates once testing is complete and a failure to evacuate infected patients promptly. He was also concerned about the lack of hospital-grade disinfection.
Although these concerns were relayed to all levels of government, nobody took decisive action, according to the Secret China website.
He described the treatment as a whirlpool of “willful, stubborn, crushing, desperate and forcible advancement.”
State-run media outlets have also criticized the Chinese leadership’s pandemic response. For example, Shangguan News urged all levels of Shanghai officials to come forward with their concerns and help “solve problems” for people. The media outlet published the message with the headline stating there is no reason for leaders to “delay or dodge.”
In the south of Shanghai, Ningbo residents have been ordered to produce a negative Covid-19 test result every 48 hours. Otherwise, they will be banned from using public transport or entering public venues.
Beijing authorities have imposed frequent testing on more than 20 million residents across at least 12 districts. Shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment venues, schools, and libraries remain closed.
Mainland China reported nearly 370 symptomatic infections and 5,647 asymptomatic cases. Seventy-four percent of symptomatic cases and 95.5% of asymptomatic patients are based in Shanghai.
Authorities blame the low vaccination rate among the country’s elderly for the jump in infections. In Shanghai, 62% of residents over the age of 60 are fully vaccinated, and only 15% of those aged over 80 have received both jabs. The average age of death is 84, according to Bloomberg.
Former state-run media personality Hu Xijin claimed the misdiagnosed death had “nothing to do” with the CCP virus, negligence, or irresponsibility. Rather, the facility severely neglected its duty of care to residents, and this failure almost resulted in actual death.
Researchers separately found that Chinese medical specialists wrongly diagnosed patients as brain dead before extracting their live organs.
Australian National University Ph.D. researcher Matthew Robertson and Israeli cardiac transplant surgeon Jacob Lavee allegedly caught transplant physicians incorrectly certifying causes of death according to medical procedures listed in 56 hospitals across the communist-ruled nation.
Their thorough investigation is touted to be the world’s first study that exposes the CCP’s transition away from executing via firing squads towards killing in operating theaters.
Primary health care professionals also reportedly removed hearts, kidneys, livers, and other vital organs without consent. Unfortunately, practically all of these procedures resulted in the patient’s death.
After performing an algorithmic and forensic search across 2,838 research papers from 124,770 Chinese-language transplant publications, Robertson and Lavee made the bombshell findings. They also discovered “problematic declarations of brain death during organ procurement.”
“We have documented 71 descriptions of problematic brain death declaration prior to heart and lung procurement … [and,] given that the donors could not have been brain dead before organ procurement, the declaration of brain death could not have been medically sound,” they said in the study published by the American Journal of Transplantation. “In these cases death must have been caused by the surgeons procuring the organ.”
The pair revealed that Taiwan recorded 51 executions by firing squad in 2011. Death-row prisoners were anesthetized, shot in the head to preserve heart function, and examined within 20 minutes of execution before being pronounced legally dead and rushed to a nearby hospital for organ procurement.
“The problem the authors identify is the unreliable nature of inflicting brain death by firing squad: the bullet penetrating the temporal bone of skull will not reach the brainstem, so a direct brainstem death could not occur,” they said in the document.
“However through causing intracranial hemorrhage, which will lead to increased intracranial pressure, herniation of the big brain [sic] and compression of the brainstem, this could possibly cause brainstem death to occur. However such a means is indirect, imprecise and unreliable,” they added.
Cranial damage can render typical means of establishing brain death almost impossible. This injury can cause a coma, pupil movement, facial and tracheal responses, lack of autonomous breathing, and other brainstem reflex absences.
“As a result, when being transferred from execution chamber to hospital for transplantation, the death-row inmates … execution is continued after the firing squad and finished by transplantation surgeons,” they said.
They are deeply concerned that organ harvesting has effectively become a new form of state execution.
“Because these organ donors could only have been prisoners, our findings strongly suggest that physicians in the People’s Republic of China have participated in executions by organ removal,” they said. “Execution is continued after the firing squad and finished by transplantation surgeons.”
They also ruled out the possibility of death-row prisoners being brain dead before surgery. However, brain dead patients must be unable to breathe without a ventilator, and physicians failed to account for this essential criterion.
“We identified over two dozen additional papers that described almost identical surgical procedures to the papers we classified as problematic brain death declarations (BDD). In these papers, reference is often made (n = 16) to ‘establishing ventilation’ or ‘maintaining ventilation’ immediately following the declaration of donor brain death and/or just prior to procurement,'” the pair said.
In some cases, health professionals could even have breached organ transplant regulations by using a face mask instead of the usual intubation process.
“In the cases where a face mask was used instead of intubation, or a rapid tracheotomy was followed immediately by intubation; or where intubation took place after sternal incision as surgeons examined the beating heart, the lack of prior determination of brain death is even more apparent,” they said.
The only circumstances under which the dead donor rule (DDR) would not be violated is where surgeons adhered to rigorous BDD protocols.
“In that case, the phrase ‘establish ventilation’ could have referred to turning on the ventilator, not intubating the patient,” they said.
“This would only have been possible if the donor had already been intubated and the apnea test performed. However, none of this is described in the papers despite the otherwise detailed descriptions of routine surgical procedures,” they added.
The study also found physicians could have unnecessarily risked patients’ lives if they were intubated before the cause of brain death was confirmed.
“Brain death must have been achieved in a controlled manner to prevent cardiac arrest prior to transportation to hospital and procurement—and surgeons must have insisted on risking the donor’s cardiac death and ischemic damage while conducting the apnea test,” the document said.
“Given the number of papers we identified and the clear benefits to transplant success they imply, we think it is most probable that ‘establish ventilation’ simply refers to intubation. It also suggests that problematic BDD, and therefore likely DDR violations, may be more widespread than we can conclusively document,” it added.
Robertson and Lavee believe transplant physicians play an “intimate” and “active” role in carrying out the CCP’s controversial organ harvesting practices.
They cited a 1995 report from the Bellagio Taskforce, which revealed a Taiwanese-born physician sedated, intubated, and inserted an intravenous line before a death row prisoner was executed. Then, immediately after the patient was shot in the head, the health professional stemmed blood flow, put the subject on a respirator, and injected compounds to raise blood pressure and keep organs perfused.
“In this way, the physician became an intimate participant in the execution process, functioning not to preserve life but to manipulate death in the service of transplantation,” they said.
The pair also caught physicians wrongly injecting heparin intramuscularly and establishing venous lines for introducing heparin around intubation time.
“If the donor was a genuine brain dead patient, venous lines would already have been established before BDD as part of antemortem treatment—they are never established just before organ procurement,” they said.
“The donor had no peripheral venous lines before surgery and may even have been ambulant. This is consistent with [an] eyewitness testimony about organ procurement from prisoners but it is not consistent with standard procurement procedures in brain dead donors,” they added.
Robertson and Lavee found research papers that claim even “voluntary” organ donors were declared brain dead and had intubation. They cited a case where three donors were in a deep coma without breathing spontaneously despite being “normally healthy.”
“Mechanical ventilation was maintained through tracheal intubation; the brainstem reflex had disappeared, electroencephalogram was flat, and the transcranial Doppler ultrasound showed brain death patterns,” they said.
“Such reports, particularly in recent years, are consistent with change of practice in line with official PRC claims of procurement from voluntary donors (they are also consistent with increased reporting of ethical procurement surgery).”
The pair is still trying to determine how so-called organ donors were prepared for organ procurement if multiple DDR breaches were recorded in those papers.
“Textual data in the cases we examine is silent on the matter. However, Taiwan is the only country we know where death penalty prisoners’ vital organs have been used following execution—this reportedly took place during the 1990s and then once more in March 2011,” they said.
Medical literature ranks mainland China as the world’s second-largest transplant country based on absolute transplant volume and second only to the United States. Human rights researchers estimate the East Asian nation performs more transplants than the United States’s 39,000 total sum for 2020.
However, the CCP has yet to disclose how Chinese hospitals can advertise transplant waiting times of weeks compared to months, and even years, required for a matching organ in North America.
“Hospitals continue to advertise organs to transplant tourists with websites in English, Russian, and Arabic [and] Chinese authorities now say they will be performing 50,000 transplants by 2023–allegedly all from voluntary donors,” the study said.
“If this transpires, China will be operating the most successful and rapidly growing voluntary transplant program in the world but Chinese governmental accounts of its organ transplantation sector are often contradictory, and the state has published confusing and demonstrably manipulated datasets to the international community,” it added.
From the 1980s to the present, the CCP developed one of the globe’s largest transplantation systems based primarily on organs from prisoners, supplied by the state’s security and judicial system. International medical organizations have condemned this controversial practice.
The CCP regards both the number of judicial executions and the actual number of transplants as state secrets. Moreover, the identity of all prisoner donors is also unknown, and speculation continues to grow about whether non-condemned prisoners of conscience like Falun Gong practitioners and Uighur Muslims are unethically targeted for their organs.
The United Nations previously condemned the CCP’s alleged organ harvesting as “extremely” alarming. The intergovernmental organization cited “credible information” that clearly shows that peaceful Falun Gong, Uighur, Tibetan, Muslim and Christian people are forcibly subjected to blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, and other medical examination forms without consent. This is despite the absence of any requirement for prisoners of conscience to undergo such medical tests.
The organization also criticized the CCP for registering test results in a living source database for “organ allocation.” State-run healthcare providers allegedly use the information to find potential buyers who can pay anywhere up to $1 million per organ.
The organization’s human rights experts previously contacted the CCP about these disturbing allegations in 2006 and 2007. However, the CCP failed to provide detailed information on “waiting times for organ allocation, or information on the sources of organs.”
This lack of transparency became a significant obstacle to successfully identifying and protecting “victims of trafficking” and investigating and prosecuting any suspected traffickers.
Ethan Gutmann, an Asia expert who grew up in Southern Vermont, previously estimated the CCP’s organ black market could be worth between $8 billion and $9 billion each year, according to the Minghui website.