What is Near Death Experience?

The Near Death Experience (NDE), happens when someone is either approaching death or in a situation presenting a very real and imminent threat of death. The most common event causing an NDE is cardiac arrest - not to be confused with a heart attack. During a heart attack, the subject usually has chest pains and other symptoms, but their heart doesn’t necessarily stop. The most common cause of a heart attack is arterial thrombosis. A cardiac arrest on the other hand is exactly what is says, the heart arrests or stops. It’s much easier to stop the heart than you might think. A hard blow to the chest or an electric shock can bring it about; the list is long. People stranded in remote places such as by shipwreck or plane crash and perceive there to be no hope of rescue, have also reported NDEs.  


An NDE usually, but not always, happens in several stages. In the first stage, the person suddenly finds themselves above their body looking down. This is an Out of Body Experience (OBE). They can see and hear everything that’s said and done in the immediate vicinity. Many are able to move around the area. A man who had an OBE during an operation was able to move away from the operating table, down to the far end and around the corner and accurately read the notes in the pin board. The most famous case of OBE is that of Pam Reynolds, which many say is definitive proof that the mind separates from the body when close to death. She had an OBE during surgery when her body temperature was just 10 degrees centigrade (it should be about 37) and they had drained all the blood from her body. (To read more about this remarkable case, see the page entitled: Pam Reynolds.)


In the second phase, the experiencer sees a bright light and feels a force pulling them towards it. For many, their journey to the light is along a very bright tunnel. As they approach the light, they hear a voice ‘talking’ to them. All communication is by direct thought transfer (telepathy). They often meet dead relatives and people to whom they were very close. There are many examples of people for whom this was a great shock because they hadn’t yet heard of the person’s death.


Many have a life review. The voice makes them relive aspects of their lives, reflecting on how they have treated people and it made them feel. This type of life review is not to be confused with people saying that their life past before them as the result of a crisis. An example might a mountaineer falling, a swimmer starting to drown or a skydiver’s parachute not opening exactly when it should. In these cases, it’s just the brain rushing through all past experiences in the hope of finding a solution to the current situation.


Is this proof of an afterlife, of immortality? A great many think so and, as evidence goes, it’s certainly very convincing. However, to prove something scientifically implies complying with scientific methodology. Science is right to impose these checks, but it does make proving existence of the afterlife very difficult. During an NDE, an experiencer, such as Pam Reynolds, is clinically dead but not out of the reach of resuscitation. Science would want someone dead to the point of no return; in other words, dead and buried, not dead but recoverable. Nevertheless, scientific proof of Out of Body Experience will be a huge step in the right direction.


The project was the brainchild of Dr Sam Parnia, a medical scientist originally from Southampton in the UK but now mainly in America. He was told several times that undertaking research in a subject like Near Death Experience could seriously damage his career. Nevertheless, he eventually got the participation of many hospitals throughout Europe, the UK and the USA. You can check whether your hospital was one of them by going to page: Surgeons don't believe in Near Death Experience. The results were due to be published in January 2013, however, with the success of the research, the project will now run indefinitely. Perhaps as a consequence of these results, the John Templeton Foundation recently awarded Professor John Fischer, a philosopher at the University of California Riverside, a 5 million dollar grant to undertake research into the social consequences of immortality. Called the Immortality Project, Near Death Experience will be central to their work. For further details see page: Is science about to prove Near Death Experience?