Woman 'embalmed alive' after catastrophic hospital mistake in Russia

Woman 'embalmed alive' after catastrophic hospital mistake in Russia

When you consider the extent to which medicine has progressed over the last couple of centuries, we're very lucky to have been born into the present day. No longer do we have to rely on rudimentary cures or the guesswork of so-called "quacks"; instead, we have billion-dollar industries dedicated to researching diseases and paving the way for further medical progress.

However, even with our understanding of medicine being at its most advanced point in history, there is still a worrying margin for human error in practically any treatment. When mistakes do happen, though, they are often easily rectified. Often - but not always.

Last week, a 28-year-old woman passed away after a routine operation after doctors accidentally pumped embalming fluids into her body.

Ekaterina Fedyaeva, from Western Russia, had gone to the hospital to receive treatment for ovarian cysts: a condition which is actually fairly common amongst women, and doesn't normally require surgical intervention. However, Fedyaeva's case was more severe than average, and so she had been scheduled for an operation to remove the fluid-filled sacs attached to her ovaries.

Given how standard the procedure is, the woman never once suspected that her life would be at risk while she was on the operating table.

During the operation, though, medical staff made a terrible mistake. Rather than administering saline solution - a saltwater mixture normally used to clean wounds and treat dehydration - hospital personal accidentally gave Fedyaeva formalin, a solution that contains formaldehyde. This, of course, is normally used to preserve dead bodies.

The team soon realized their error, and made a desperate attempt to clean out the woman's abdominal cavity, but it was too late. Just one ounce of formalin can kill an adult, and Fedyaeva had had the substance in her body for at least two minutes before anyone noticed the problem.

Fedyaeva did not succumb to the toxic chemical immediately, and was even conscious for a short amount of time after the operation.

The woman's mother-in-law, Valentina Fedyaeva, told news sources that the 28-year-old had said to her mother, "Mom, I'm dying" after she came out of surgery. At first, her relatives did not take her seriously, but everyone could see that something was wrong when the 28-year-old's organs started failing, and she had to be hooked up to machines in order to keep her alive.

Tragically, the doctors' later efforts did not help, and Fedyaeva died last Thursday.

Rashid Abdullov, the minister of health, family and social well-being for the Ulyanovsk region, described the incident as "a terrible tragedy."

"My deepest condolences to the family, relatives of Ekaterina Fedyaeva," the minister wrote on Twitter last week. "This is a terrible tragedy. We will provide all the necessary aid to the family. Those responsible for the tragedy have been already brought to liability and the investigative agencies continue to work."

It is still not entirely clear how such a terrible mistake was allowed to happen, but investigators believe it was simply down to medical personnel not reading the label before administering the substance. A criminal investigation into the incident has been opened.