In 2008, lead scientist, Dr. Sam Parnia conducted a 4 year scientific study at the University of Southampton, examining over 2,000 people at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria who suffered cardiac arrests. They found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.
As one of the largest ever studies into consciousness after death, the Southampton University in the UK team of researchers concluded, “We still don’t know what happens, but consciousness and awareness appear to linger for sometime after physical death.” This suggests that consciousness and the body may unravel and follow separate paths after death.
Almost 40 per cent of people, who survived death, described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. Various conclusions from many people, religions and spiritual beliefs view the ever-lasting nature of the soul. However, to the scientists, the question remains, what happens to the human consciousness after clinical death?
Although, scientists agree that they still don’t what is going on with human awareness after death, the study gives concrete evidence that some portion of our consciousness is able to survive at least the first few minutes of bodily death, and maintain sufficient awareness to somehow observe the clinically dead body and its surroundings while awaiting resuscitation.
Lead scientist, Dr. Sam Parnia, who in an interview regarding to the study, said, led the multi-disciplinary team, “The evidence thus far suggests that in the first few minutes after death, consciousness is not annihilated. Whether it fades away afterwards, we do not know, but right after death, consciousness is not lost. We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. In this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. 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. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events”.
Dr. Parnia, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Director of Resuscitation Research at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA, and the study’s lead author, explained: “Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning. If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death’. In this study we wanted to go beyond the emotionally charged yet poorly defined term of NDEs to explore objectively what happens when we die.”
Even though the near-death experience is scientifically difficult to confirm by the sheer nature of a personal experience, this research is a scientific clue that consciousness survives clinical death.While the study is not completely conclusive as to the scientific validity of near-death experiences, it certainly is drawing closer to an expanding understanding of the relationship between the body and the spirit.
The gap between the spiritual experience and scientific proof seems to be approaching more rapidly than ever. Those of us who know the intense and very real experience of being clinically dead do not need scientific proof of our near-death or shared nearing-death experiences. We’ve experienced and have witnessed a phenomenon and have been changed in many ways. It’s wonderful to see that these studies are closing the link to our realities, step by step.
Results of the study have been published in the journal Resuscitation and are now available online.
Please check out Dr. Sam Parnia’s Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death. As Dr. Parnia explains, “ to share what I and other doctors are discovering in hospitals all over the world.”