Woman Sues After Husband Declared Dead: 'He Tried to Hug Me'

No one believed Tammy Cleveland when she (rightly) insisted husband wasn't dead
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2015 8:50 AM CDT

A widow is suing two Buffalo-area hospitals and doctors in each after her 46-year-old husband was erroneously declared dead last year—and no one believed her when she insisted he was alive, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. When Michael Cleveland suffered a heart attack on Oct. 10, wife Tammy rushed to the ER at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in Tonawanda, only to be told by Dr. Gregory Perry that he'd been unable to restart her husband's heart, the Washington Post reports. Michael was declared dead at 8:29pm, the Buffalo News notes, and Tammy, her daughter, and stepson went to see his body—and were shocked. "The doctor told me that it would appear like he was breathing, but he really wasn't," Tammy told the Democrat and Chronicle. "He (tried) to hug me." Here, the second part of her nightmare began.

Perry—who the News notes had been a licensed physician for 15 months—and other medical staff refused to believe Tammy's pleas, telling her any movement she was witnessing was "because he had life expelling out of his body." Even a coroner who came for the body told Perry to call when Michael stopped showing signs of life, per a PI who interviewed the coroner. Finally, at 11:10—nearly three hours after he'd been declared dead—Perry gave in and checked Michael out, proclaiming, "My God, he's got a pulse," to which Tammy replied, "No s---," the Post reports. Michael was rushed to Buffalo General Medical Center, where he was declared dead for real the next morning—and where Tammy was told that if he had been treated earlier for a collapsed lung punctured during CPR, he may have lived, per the Democrat and Chronicle. "Poor Mike," Tammy tells the News. "He's got to hear everybody saying he's dead. Can you imagine?" (Read other shocking details in the Buffalo News.)

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