Vital Signs

St. Louis Nurse Leads Rare, Prospective Study

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study, Dr. Parnia and his colleagues looked at that and didn’t see any differences between the NDEr and non-NDEr groups in carbon dioxide levels; they were within the normal range for both groups. The NDErs even had higher oxygen levels than the non-NDErs, suggesting that these experiences don’t happen just when oxygen levels are low.

The thing that I find so interesting is that it makes you wonder if consciousness may continue after the brain has stopped functioning. I wish an MRI could have been done during the arrest. I know that EEGs have been done on patients during cardiac arrest, as the Dutch team under Dr. van Lommel reported. They stated that patients were flat-lined; there was no EEG response. Yet so many times when talking with these NDE patients I saw how lucid their thought processes had been during the time of their cardiac arrest, how structured they were; there was an element of intelligence and reasoning going on there. Normally you would expect that there would be no memory at all from such periods of “unconsciousness”. A lot of patients will tell you after a traumatic event, “I remember going into it, but I don’t remember anything from the next several days.” What’s so amazing about these neardeath patients is that they obviously remember well enough to tell us what they experienced, from a time when you wouldn’t think that they’d be having memory formation, or any kind of mental experience.

VS: Yes. If the body’s in crisis with cardiac arrest, you’d think that if there’s any mental activity at all it would have to do with fear, panic, or trauma.
JS: Right. Which no one reported, not one single patient. All just the opposite. Three patients told me they recovered more quickly. This was not even a question we asked them—they just told me. Obviously, this is an area that I think really needs further research: that it’s such a brief experience yet it so powerfully and significantly changes the individual.

A lot of the patients tell me that during the experience there was a functioning of their consciousness beyond the timespace boundary. 82% of our subjects told me there was no sense of time or space. That was very consistent: ‘I was aware.’ ‘I was conscious, yet I was definitely not in any kind of time-space framework’—which was very interesting to me. Basically they were telling me that their awareness was present within the moment. And they perceive this moment as being eternal, also.

And then they all said there was some kind of survival of their soul or consciousness beyond the physical. They kept telling me, “Well, you’re not going to be able to explain this in psychological or physiological terms.” So you wonder if this doesn’t shed some light on consciousness working independently of the brain itself. Of course there very well could be an area of the brain that helps us make that transition, or that’s involved in the separation of consciousness from the physical organism. Or a particular awareness comes about when certain areas of


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