The Telegraph is reporting that the UK team devoted four years to analyzing the experiences of more than 2,000 cardiac arrest patients from hospitals in the US, UK, and Austria, and found that 40 percent of survivors described having some form of "awareness" after they were declared clinically dead.
"Of those who survived, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections, nine per cent had experiences compatible with traditional definitions of a near-death experience and two per cent exhibited full awareness with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” events – or out-of-body experiences," the Telegraph reports.
Experts currently believe that the brain shuts down within 20 to 30 seconds of the heart stopping and that any form of awareness is impossible after this time.
However, the new study found compelling evidence that patients experienced real events up to three minutes after being declared dead - and were able to accurately recall these experiences after resuscitation.
Dr Sam Parnia, an assistant professor at the State University of New York and a former research fellow at the University of Southampton who led the research, admitted that he had always believed that people who described "near death" experiences were hallucinating, but the study convinced him otherwise.
For example, one patient was able to give a "very credible" account of what doctors and nurses were doing while trying to resuscitate him and claimed to have been watching it all from a corner of the room.
“We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating," Dr. Parnia told the Telegraph. "“But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes. 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 experienced lasted for. He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.”
The results of the study, which has been published in the journal Resuscitation, convinced Dr Parnia that the "recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine investigation without prejudice”.
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