After respiratory and multiple organ failure, Valdelucio Goncalves, 54, had been declared dead by his doctors, the Brazilian newservice, G1, reported. Staff members at the Menandro de Farias Hospital first notified the family and then they prepared the body of the deceased resident of Salvador, Brazil for the morgue by tying his feet, filling his nose and ears with cotton wool, and finally packing the corpse into a signature black body bag. Soon enough, Goncalves’ brother arrived at the morgue with the necessary clothes to dress the body.

Late night shift workers opened the door. As Walterio entered the cool room, a small movement caught his eyes, but he dismissed his fears, assuming his superstitions were simply getting the better of him. However, approaching his brother's remains, dread gave way to surprise. "As I got closer I could see it wriggling," he told the Daily Mirror. Strangely, he saw the bag “rising and falling” as if the dead body within it was still breathing. “I went crazy and shouted for the medical team, the nurse, so they could see what was happening,” Walterio told the Mirror. “They checked him and confirmed that he was still alive.”

Medical staff rushed the resurrected Goncalves to the intensive care unit.

Goncalves, who is being treated for stomach cancer and cannot speak, wrote a letter explaining how Blessed Irma Dulce, a Franciscan nun revered as a saint in Brazil, brought him back from the dead. Transcribed by G1, his letter stated: "I, Valdelucio, saw death at my feet, but my faith was so great that I was cured. Before Irma Dulce I said, do a miracle in me, and she heard my prayer. I saw my mother telling me, son, hold onto her and you will be saved."

Originally, Goncalves’ family took him to the hospital on Saturday morning when he woke up struggling to breathe. They thought the hospital staff would understand how best to treat him and were surprised to learn of his death. After his miraculous revival while zipped in a body bag, the health department of the state of Bahia opened an inquiry. Margarida Mirando, director of the Meandro de Faria General Hospital, said in a statement that she “will meet with the whole team involved in the patient's care to clarify the chain of events which allowed this to happen.”

At the request of family members, Goncalves has been transferred to another hospital, Santo Antonio, in Salvador.