A Russian woman was embalmed alive — a funeral director explains what that means

This week, multiple outlets shared a story that played on people’s worst fears: in Russia, 28-year-old Ekaterina Fedyaeva was accidentally “embalmed alive” during an operation. But what does this mean exactly, and how is it possible?

Fedyaeva was undergoing a surgery to remove ovarian cysts. But instead of giving her saline, doctors gave her formalin, which is a fluid with a very high proportion of formaldehyde, the chemical used to preserve dead bodies. The details are grisly: Fedyaeva complained that she was dying as her organs failed, according to The Washington Post. Her mother said she lived with the solution for 14 hours after the surgery and has called the hospital error “murder.”

Formalin is 40 percent formaldehyde, says Caleb…

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