Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996 in a murder case, Benjamin Schreiber, 66, fell seriously ill in March 2015.
Transported unconscious to the hospital, he was resuscitated five times by the doctors, before finally returning to his cell once restored and rid of his kidney stones.
The survivor argued three years later in court that having passed momentarily to death, his life had been purged.
His arguments, at least original, did not convince a local court any more than the Iowa Court of Appeal, which ruled Wednesday "inadmissible".
"Mr. Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or dead, and the question does not arise," she said.
The possibility that the detainee is "dead" is "unlikely", added the Court of Appeal in his judgment, since he had signed the petition himself.