AWARE Project Results

The University of Southampton kindly gave permission for material from its website at to be included in this blog.

Dr Parnia kindly gave me permission to include material from the Horizon Research website at

Dr Sam Parnia

On 7th October 2014, Southampton University proudly announced the results of the AWARE project (AWAreness during REsuscitation). Dr Sam Parnia, an alumnus of Southampton University, initiated the six-year project back in 2008. He is now Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Director of Resuscitation Research at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA.

The results have attracted huge worldwide interest.

The study now concludes that:

The themes relating to the experience of death appear far broader than has been understood so far, or what has been described as so-called near-death experiences.

1. In some cases of cardiac arrest, memories of visual awareness compatible with so-called out-of-body experiences do in fact correspond with actual events.

2. A higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits.

3. Widely used yet scientifically imprecise terms such as near-death and out-of-body experiences may not be sufficient to describe the actual experience of death. Future studies should focus on cardiac arrest, which is biologically synonymous with death, rather than ill-defined medical states sometimes referred to as ‘near-death’.

4. The recalled experience surrounding death merits a genuine investigation without prejudice.

One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest.

Dr Parnia concluded: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating. In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.”

No doubt, research groups will be adding to these incredible results for decades to come.

Dr Parnia wants to expand the scope of the research. Included in the Horizon Research list of research topics is Death Bed Phenomena (DBPs).

Dr Parnia explains: “In the 24 hours before patients’ deaths, they may experience and report to their carer a number of experiences very similar to the near-death experience. They sometimes report being visited by dead relatives who seem to have come to smooth their path in the death process. They may report that they have gone into, and then returned from, an environment which is similar to that of the near death experience.

Sometimes carers of the dying say that they have heard 'heavenly' music or have been enveloped in a bright light as the patient nears the point of death.

Knowledge of the near death experiences and death bed visions helps both carers and the dying understand these phenomena as part of the dying process.”

The next few decades will I think prove to be a very special time for the human race.