embalmed body of the former Czechoslovak President Klement Gottwald
Visitors observe a reconstructed medical room which served to preserve the embalmed body of the former Czechoslovak President Klement Gottwald, who turned the country into the communist regime after a coup in February 1948, in Prague February 24, 2012. Reuters/Petr Josek

A Russian woman has died after being embalmed alive. Ekaterina Fedyaeva was mistakenly given formalin instead of a saline drip, making her suffer in agony for two days before falling into a coma.

The 27-year-old was in her local hospital in Ulyanovsk for an unspecified routine surgery. She was supposed to be given a saline drip, but instead, she was given a formaldehyde-based drip. Formaldehyde is used to prevent the decomposition of corpses.

She suffered from extreme pain and convulsions for two days. Her heart stopped several times while she was attached to a life support machine. She was in essence embalmed alive. Her husband Igor and her mother Galina Baryshnikova were with her when she came out from surgery.

“Her legs were moving, she had convulsions, her whole body was shaking,” Baryshnikova told The Sun. “I put socks on her, then a robe, then a blanket, but she was shivering to such an extent, I can’t even describe it. No doctor came to see her although she was coming round from anaesthetic.”

The mother said they did not know Fedyaeva was given formalin. She said the doctors already knew they gave her the wrong drip and that they had to act immediately to save her. “But they did nothing,” Baryshnikova said. She begged them to do something; however, they just allegedly told her to go home.

Fedyaeva was rushed to intensive care overnight as her condition deteriorated. Fourteen hours after the surgery, the doctors still reportedly did nothing. Her mother apparently found the doctors in a huddle “discussing how to tell us that a terrible mistake had been made.”

What they did tell the family was that “a medical mistake took place,” apparently never admitting to what had happened. Fedyaeva then fell into a coma, and her heart, lungs and liver stopped working. She was transferred to a regional clinic, where her family was told about the horrific mistake.

After a desperate attempt to save her life, she was then flown to a Moscow hospital, where she briefly woke from her coma. However, she eventually died of multiple organ failure.

“This is pure murder,” Baryshnikova told UK media.

Fedyaeva was buried on April 7. A criminal investigation is underway.