A 77-year-old woman from Spain has gained a new lease of life after doctors pronounced her dead, according to local news reports.

María Berta Rodríguez, from Galicia, lived a fairly normal life before the incident: she had undergone heart surgery and was diabetic, but nothing was out of the ordinary for a woman of her age.

In late April, however, while she was sitting down to her breakfast, something unusual happened. “She began to sweat, turn white and she felt dizzy,” her son, Kiko García, told La Voz de Galicia. “We thought it was a drop in sugar, but as it was getting worse, we pressed the button for the Red Cross [health care service].”

Old woman
Before the incident, Rodríguez did have diabetes and had undergone heart surgery, but none of this had been unusual for a person of her age.

At the time, García did not think it was anything serious. But by the time health care workers arrived at the house, Rodríguez had lost consciousness.

“She was very cold,” García said. “She turned an ash-white color, with her lips as transparent, and then I understood that it was true, that now she was leaving.”

After taking her blood pressure and vital signs, Rodríguez was pronounced dead. “She was very, very cold,” García said. “She was dead, nothing was working for her. I have it very clear, she was ready for the papers.”

Her son and the health officials picked her up from the kitchen floor and carried her upstairs on a stretcher to lay her in bed. But then, as García wept into her lap, something amazing happened. “She started to move and we were all scared, we couldn’t believe it,” García said. “At first, she did nothing, but little by little she began to breathe and react.”

She was immediately brought to the hospital, where her doctors concluded that she had undergone a syncope—a medical word for fainting or passing out.

Syncope occurs when there is not enough blood flowing to the brain, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. This can be caused by heart problems, a sudden drop in blood pressure and dehydration, among other things.

Before syncope, people often feel dizzy, weak and suddenly sweaty, symptoms which align perfectly with those experienced by Rodríguez.

After spending the night in hospital, Rodríguez was sent home. According to García, she does not remember anything from the experience, other than feeling dizzy and waking up in a hospital bed.

Since the incident, her memory is not what it used to be but she has otherwise been able to go back to living a relatively normal life.