Heading towards the bright light or having an out-of-body experience may not just be the stuff of fiction, as scientists claim to have found evidence suggesting life can continue after death.
In the largest ever medical study of its kind, a team of UK-based researchers spent four years analysing the experiences of cardiac arrest patients – with 46 per cent of survivors claiming to have some form of awareness during the period when they were technically dead.
The team from the University of Southampton examined over 2000 people who suffered cardiac arrest in the UK, the USA and Austria. They say that they heard convincing evidence that patients experienced real events for three minutes after their hearts had stopped beating.
One 57-year-old man was even able to describe observing his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Lead study author Dr Sam Parnia told The Telegraph: “The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three-minute intervals. So we could time how long the experience lasted for.”
He adds: “He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.”
Survivors’ experiences varied. Of the participants, 330 said they saw a bright light, some had the sensation of drowning, some felt separated from their bodies while others described their senses as heightened.
According to Parnia, “estimates have suggested that millions of people have vivid experiences in relation to death but the scientific evidence has been ambiguous at best.” He believes that although many people assume that these are hallucinations or illusions, “they do seem to correspond to actual events.”
And what about those who don’t have vivid death experiences? It could be “due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits. These experiences warrant further investigation,” Parnia said.