Woman found alive after taken to morgue by son
An elderly woman was found to be alive by surprised staff at a mourning hall next to Kaohsiung municipal funeral home on Saturday morning after being taken there by her son, despite being still very much alive.
The 58-year-old Lee Hsiu-hui ( ) reportedly “raised her hands to shield her eyes from the sun” when she was moved from an ambulance to the privatelyoperated mourning hall at about 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The ambulance driver reportedly said the funeral parlor told him that Lee would die soon after her nasogastric tube was removed, so he was surprised to find her still alive when they arrived at the morgue. The driver claimed he did not report what he saw to the mortuary staff or the police because Lee was accompanied by her son.
Lee, who wore an adult diaper and had a nasogastric tube, was in the mourning hall for about five hours before mortuary staff found her still alive and reported the matter to the police, who instructed Lee’s son to take her home.
Lee’s son said he was consumed with “pain” when taking his mother to the mourning hall, but could not disobey his father’s decision.
“My mom lives with pain and we are also suffering. We’ve all done our best,” said Lee’s son, who had remained by her side but did nothing other than wait at the mourning hall amid Buddhist prayers for the dead. “I’m very upset and feel helpless,” he added.
Lee’s husband, Wang Shunfu ( ), 81, said he had spent all his savings taking care of Lee over the past 18 years after she suffered from a series of chronic illnesses, including “black foot disease,” which leads to gangrene.
Wang said that after he was hospitalized on Friday evening due to a high fever, he was unable to look after Lee anymore and “had no choice” but to ask his son to leave her in the morning hall to die.
The Social Affairs Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government said on Sunday that social workers had visited Lee at her home and would seek low income subsidies from the government and other private sources to help the family through hard times.
The police are considering charging Wang and his son with abandonment, which could result in a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, where Lee was hospitalized earlier this month, said she was not critically ill when she left the hospital at about 9 a.m. on Saturday at the request of her family.
However, Lee was returned to the hospital by her son at 7 p.m. on Saturday for emergency treatment and moved to the public ward on Sunday.
The hospital indicated that Lee, who has suffered a cerebral stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, required long- term care from a caregiver. Lee and her son declined media requests for interviews on Sunday. The media outlets waited outside Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, but they were asked to leave after the hospital received complaints from other patients.
Apple Daily reported that Lee is Wang’s third wife and lives with his first wife in a house with four floors. The first floor was used by Wang as a Chinese herbal medicine pharmacy, which was closed after Wang’s first wife became paralyzed and Lee suffered chronic diseases, the report said.
Lee’s son said he works in a small plastic factory in Kaohsiung and earns about NT$10,000 ( US$ 322) per month, so it is beyond his means to afford a caregiver that costs at least NT$60,000 per month, the report said.