A man whose brain has died raises his arms and crosses them in powerful footage of a strange medical phenomenon. The video, apparently filmed to educate student doctors, shows a patient who has suffered total loss of brain function.
Yet, despite being legally dead, his body remains briefly alive and in one last movement he raises his hands and brings them to his chest.
His body then relaxes and he lowers his arms, before the students touch him to see if he reacts – which of course he doesn’t.
The clip was recorded at Hospital da Restauração in Recife, Brazil’s fifth-largest city, and shows the Lazarus sign.
Also known as the Lazarus reflex, the phenomenon works like a knee jerk reaction because it’s the body working without the brain.
Because the sensory nerves send a signal to the spine instead of the head, the movement is possible in patients whose bodies are kept alive by life support.
Named for the biblical figure Lazarus, who returned from the dead, the sign has even been observed in patients whose medical ventilators were switched off several minutes earlier.
A comment posted with the clip praised the patient for providing the students with an important lesson.
Luciano Semenssato wrote: “Medical education is important precisely so young professionals are trained and integrated, so that they can act and help other lives.
“To see is much better than reading the books, so the group of students never forgot the signs and points made in this video.”