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Breath of life interrupts embalming

A man declared dead at a Clovis hospital and sent to a funeral home for embalming on Wednesday morning was returned to the hospital after he took a breath.

An employee of Muffley Funeral Home called 911 dispatchers when he found Felipe Padilla, 94, of Clovis, was still alive.

Sometime Wednesday evening, Padilla was again declared dead and his remains returned to the funeral home.

Only one family member could be contacted, and he declined to comment. Circumstances surrounding Padilla’s death were not known.

Funeral home owner Russell Muffley said the funeral home had received a call from Plains Regional Medical Center’s emergency room on Wednesday morning.

“They had a deceased individual for us to come and pick up,” Muffley said. “We sent our driver out there, he picked the individual up and when we put him in the preparation room, he took a breath.”

“I’ve been doing this 39 years and it’s never happened before,” Muffley said.

Paramedics were dispatched to the funeral home at 11:27 a.m. on Wednesday, arriving four minutes later. Muffley said the paramedics hooked up IVs and respirators and took Padilla back to the hospital. Fire department records reported that he arrived at 11:48 a.m.

“We did everything we could to make him comfortable until (the paramedics) got here,” Muffley said. “We didn’t even have to do CPR; he was breathing on his own.”

Plains Regional Medical Center administrator Brian Bentley said patient confidentiality rules prevent him from making detailed comments.

“At this point I haven’t talked to the family so I can’t say how they feel,” Bentley said late Wednesday afternoon. “We wouldn’t be able to say much on this case until we speak with the family.”

Bentley said that while the Padilla case is unusual, it’s not unheard of for someone to be declared dead who later revives.

“I think that this is much more interesting to news people than it is to people in the hospital,” Bentley said. “I think medical people recognize that things are not always black and white.

“This is an issue for the family and our concern is mostly about making sure we do what they need in order to help,” Bentley said.

Muffley said Padilla had made pre-funeral arrangements with the funeral home.