Woman “back from the dead” after being left to die by doctors

Daughter Charlene wed fiancé Scott Wright by her mother's hospital bed

A WOMAN who was left for dead by medics following a massive heart attack astonished her family and doctors when she came back to life 45 minutes later.

Relatives of Lorna Baillie were told there was no hope of reviving her and gathered round to say goodbye as doctors removed all life support.

The grieving family saw faint signs of breathing from the 49-year-old and were initially assured this was just an after-effect of the battle to save her.

But when colour started to come back in to Mrs Baillie’s face, she was rushed back in to intensive care at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The mother of four, from Prestonpans, East Lothian, is now making a remarkable recovery, sitting up in bed, communicating with her family and even managing “high fives”.

A scan of her brain has revealed that Mrs Baillie suffered no obvious damage despite being declared “technically dead”.

Her eldest daughter, Leanne Porteous, said: “It has been a whirlwind of emotions for our family. From being told she was dead, to how she is now – the whole journey has been a miracle.”

She added: “We are so close as a family and we are not the kind of people to just give up. We were telling my mum to be strong. I kept saying to her ‘come back mum, come back.’

“At one point my dad said: ‘Lorna come back I love you’ and then just like that she was there again.”

Mrs Baillie, a keen gardener and dog walker, who had kept good health, collapsed at home on February 10.

Mrs Porteous, 31, said: “My mum was lying beside her bed complaining about how hot she was. The doctor arrived moments later my mother was bright purple and blew up to three times her normal size.”

Paramedics arrived at 5.35pm and performed CPR and shock treatment on Mrs Baillie, who was then rushed to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary.

Three hours later, after waiting anxiously at the hospital for news of their mother’s condition the family heard the words they were most dreading.


Mrs Porteous said: “The doctor came through to tell us she was gone. They said that she was technically dead, but they had to wait until she had stopped breathing before they could pronounce her medically dead.”

Medics explained that a combination of adrenalin, shocks and CPR was artificially keeping the dead woman’s lungs going.

Nurses said the movements made by Lorna were a normal part of her body shutting down

They said it would be up to an hour before she could be formally pronounced dead.

The family were told to go into the room where Mrs Baillie was lying to say their goodbyes.

Her husband, John, 58, son and three daughters kept vigil beside the body, accompanied by a nurse.

Leanne said: “We noticed the colour start to come back to her face and body. It seemed like she was getting stronger.

“I don’t have any medical experience so assumed it was a normal reaction to all the medicine, but then she opened her eyes and I held her hand and it felt like she squeezed it.”

Mrs Porteous checked with the nurse that the movements were normal.

“The nurse told me it was normal for ‘involuntary movements’ in these circumstances.

“I asked the nurse if it was normal that she squeezed my hand and that she had opened her eyes and she said it was.”

The family say that 45 minutes after entering the room they persuaded the nurse to fetch a doctor.

Mrs Porteous said: “A doctor came in and immediately found a pulse. They found a pulse at about 9.30pm and at that point we were told to go back to the friends and family room.”


Mrs Baillie was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit where she was placed on a cooling machine, where saline was pumped into her body for 48 hours.

Even then, medics warned the family that even if she survived, there was not enough brain activity for her to lead a normal life.

Doctors said her kidneys had failed and that Mrs Baillie had been left in a coma in a vegetative state.

Lorna, pictured with husband John, defied the doctors prognosis to come back from the dead

Believing she might still die at any moment, Mrs Baillie’s 23-year-old daughter, Charlene, had an impromptu bedside wedding to fiancé Scott Wright, 25.

Mrs Porteous said: “The doctors kept telling us that it was unlikely that she would pull through and that in any case her brain activity was such that she had been left in a vegetative state.

“Charlene decided to have her wedding, which was scheduled for March, by our mother’s bed, we knew she wouldn’t want to miss it for anything.”

But Mrs Baillie’s condition continued to improve and she was moved from Intensive Care to a medical ward last week.

The family were given more positive news yesterday when an MRI scan revealed no obvious brain damage.

Mrs Porteous said: “It’s amazing the improvement in her condition, it has put a permanent smile on all our faces. She really gets what we are saying and seems totally relaxed. She is nodding and shaking her head and giving us high fives.

“I showed her a photo of her grandchildren to see if she recognised them and she nodded her head.

“It’s amazing, she is here with us, it feels like she is back. She tries to speak and she watches the TV. She still has an amazing sense of humour. I told her I had bought some expensive trainers and she shook her head, as if she was telling me off.

“We have had a great laugh with her, in the same way we have done every day of our life as a family together. Her heart is holding really well.

“It feels like a miracle, after we were told she was dead, but we never gave up hope.”

Extremely rare

The family are reluctant to criticise the doctors and nurses involved in the case, recognising that they battled hard to save Mrs Baillie.

But they are seeking an explanation from NHS Lothian and met a senior doctor on Friday.

Mrs Porteous said she had been assured that staff would receive “extra training” as a result of the incident.

She said: “The words that stick in my mind are when the doctor told me it was ‘not viable’ to keep her alive.

“We could have just kissed her and said our goodbyes – it doesn’t bear thinking about.

“And it has been so confusing for my three children. One minute I was telling them that granny was going to heaven and now they have seen her on the video sitting up, nodding her head and giving us a high five.”

An MRI scan revealed Lorna had suffered no long-term damage

Mr Baillie asked: “How many times does this happen to people? How many times do people just give up? We never gave up on Lorna.

“We still haven’t had all the answers but we are just so thankful that she is getting better every day.”

Dr David Farquharson, Medical Director of NHS Lothian, described the case as “extremely rare”.

He said: “Mrs Baillie was rushed to the accident and emergency department of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after suffering a heart attack in her own home.

“She had undergone resuscitation for some time before and after arrival and it was unlikely that she would survive because her vital functions had deteriorated so badly.

“Her family were told to prepare for the worst and were allowed time with her, but when Mrs Baillie was checked again her vital signs had returned – she had a strong pulse, strong breathing and colour had returned to her skin.

“This type of recovery is extremely rare and she was immediately transferred into critical care for further treatment. She has been transferred on to another ward now and is continuing to make progress.”