Lazarus syndrome? Rare phenomenon may explain why woman found breathing at funeral home was pronounced dead

A Michigan woman who was found breathing at a funeral home — hours after she was pronounced dead — could be a rare case of Lazarus syndrome, officials said Wednesday.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee told reporters that they “feel terrible” about Sunday incident involving Timesha Beauchamp, 20. Beauchamp, who has cerebral palsy, reportedly suffered a seizure and was pronounced dead after paramedics tried to revive her for 30 minutes, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

A 2007 study in  the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine describes Lazarus syndrome as the “delayed return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cessation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).” The research paper asserted that published medical literature has only identified 38 cases of Lazarus syndrome. The exceptionally rare phenomenon alludes to the story of Christ resurrecting Lazarus following his death.

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Menifee also took time Wednesday to admonish the family’s lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, for claiming police or paramedics placed Beauchamp in a body bag. Menifee said firefighters don’t carry body bags, and paramedics released Beauchamp’s body to her family.

Notably, Menifee didn’t address allegations that Beauchamp’s godmother — a registered nurse — told EMS that the 20-year-old had a pulse. Further, Southfield police reportedly saw Beauchamp moving and breathing and called fire crews back, but crews claimed the movements were caused by the medication they gave her while attempting to save her life.

WXYZ reported that on at least two instances after Beauchamp was pronounced dead, a family member alerted officials that she appeared to be breathing and her heart was beating.

Hours after Beauchamp’s body was released and her family made funeral arrangements, the staff at James H. Cole funeral home reportedly discovered the woman was breathing. Fieger claimed Beauchamp was about to be embalmed when funeral home staff realized she was still alive.

Menifee also disputed claims that paramedics didn’t contact a doctor or the Oakland County Medical Examiner.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office said the fire department contacted them after consulting an emergency room doctor who pronounced Beauchamp deceased. The medical examiner reportedly authorized the release of Beauchamp’s body without an autopsy based on police’s claims regarding her medical history. Police also said there was no evidence Beauchamp was the victim of foul play.

Fieger said the 1.5-hour delay in taking Beauchamp to the funeral home instead of the hospital may jeopardize her recovery.

Beauchamp reportedly remains hospitalized and is on a respirator. Her mother told WDIV that she may not survive.

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[Featured image: Timesha Beauchamp/WXYZ]