'Dead' Woman Was Still Alive Three Days After Her Husband Turned Off Her Life Support Machine

A husband who switched off his wife's life support machine found out three days later that she was still alive.

Malcolm Greenhill, 62, thought he had watched his wife Marilyn, 65, die after he made the decision to turn off the machines which were keeping her alive.

Doctors told him it would take just a few minutes for her to pass away so Mr Greenhill said goodbye to his wife of 41 years.

After leaving her bedside he told their children and the rest of their family about her death.

But when he phoned the hospital to make arrangements for her body to be released for burial he was told his wife was still alive.

The family returned to the hospital to spend Mrs Greenhill's last hours with her before she passed away.

Mr Greenhill told an inquest how he had to watch his wife 'die twice' at Sandwell General Hospital, in West Bromwich, West Midlands.

He told Smethwick Coroners Court he would never have left his wife's side for her remaining four days if he had known she was still alive.

He said: "I was told it was only the machine keeping her breathing and there was no point prolonging the inevitable.

"They told us there was nothing more they could do and she would only live for a couple of minutes once I turned the machine off so I said my goodbyes.

"It is like grieving for her dying twice, I said goodbye twice. If I knew she would stay alive for four days I would never have left her side."

Mrs Greenhill had been hospitalised after falling down the stairs of her home in West Bromwich and suffering a bleed to the brain.

She was taken to Sandwell Hospital on May 3 after her husband found her lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs. Doctors told her family that nothing could be done to save her life.

Mr Greenhill then made the decision to turn off the life support.

But four days later the family returned to the hospital after discovering on May 6 she was still alive.

Daughter Joanne Highfield, 39, told the hearing: "We didn't know that for three days she had laid there alone, she was still breathing.

"Nobody called us, no one told us our mum was still alive."

Adjourning the inquest for three months, Assistant Black Country Coroner Mr Angus Smillie said: "It is an unexpected turn of events, you went home thinking she had passed away only to find out days later that she was in fact still alive.

"It would be inappropriate of me to conclude the inquest today because of the unusual circumstances.

"I would like to adjourn for three months for more medical information and for an investigation into exactly what happened in those intervening days.

"It is a fairly extraordinary turn of events."

A spokesman for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Sandwell General Hospital, said the death was being thoroughly investigated.