On February 27, Dr. Sam Parnia was interviewed on the Coast to Coast AM radio program. Dr. Parnia is conducting the AWARE Study on near-death experiences (NDEs). As part of his research, he interviews patients who have suffered cardiac arrest. A summary of the interview was posted to a discussion forum by the member Wendybird.
During the interview, Dr. Parnia said the patients he has studied are not just having "near-death experiences", they are having "actual death experiences". They have been clinically dead for "minutes if not hours". The fact that some patients have memories of what was happening around them during that time is proof that consciouses survives death. Wendybird commented that at the outset of the research Parnia seemed skeptical but while conducting this research he became convinced that the afterlife is real.
Parnia refers to his cases in the AWARE study as “actual death experiences” (ADEs), because “they have objectively died for minutes if not hours”. He explains that these people “really were dead”, they were corpses, i.e., they had no heart beat, no brain function – they were actually dead, “not clinically dead, not nearly dead”, no playing around with the meaning of the words, as Parnia put it.
Regarding reversing death, Parnia explained that the medicine has progressed so far that now the dead can be resuscitated “many hours” after death. The decay of cells is a process that begins after death occurs (both heart and brain function cease). There’s a window of about 8 hours in which “brain cells are still viable, but not functioning.” That’s the key here – brain cells are NOT FUNCTIONING. After that window expires, they are so damaged they cannot be revived again. Parnia realizes that if we’d had the technology and knowledge we do today to reverse the death process, that when the Titanic sank in 1912, we’d have been able to revive many of the 1500 that died in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic – especially because the cold temperatures slow the decay of brain cells and keep them viable for hours (when the rescue ship Carpathia arrived, those people had only been in the water for two hours, within the 8-hour window to get the brain functioning again).
“We have millions and millions of people now who have essentially gone to the other side, beyond the threshold of death, they’ve entered what would have been considered the afterlife period, and they’re coming back and telling us what they experienced.” He compares it to our ability now to send men to the moon who can come back and tell us about it. We now routinely overcome death, and the people he’s studying are “like astronauts – we send them out to explore this other dimension” – they are going to the other side, and they’re able to tell us what they’ve experienced on the other side of death – “is there an afterlife and what shape does it take, and that’s a new science that’s evolving for us.”
In Parnia’s interview on Skeptiko a year or so ago, prior to the AWARE study, he seemed still to be on the fence, a bit skeptical of NDEs, even hinting he thought it was some effect of the brain. He even had proponents wondering if Parnia was setting up AWARE to fail... However, from hearing the NPR interview and this C2C interview, after reviewing in depth the ADE cases in his study, Parnia now clearly is convinced that consciousness continues to exist in some form after the heart and brain have ceased to function.
In addition to interviewing patients, the AWARE Study also involves placing some type of "target" in hospital rooms where they would not normally be seen, such as on the top of a high cabinet. The hope is that when interviewing the patients after cardiac arrest, they would have seen the target and could describe it, proving they had an out-of-body experience as part of their NDE. When I first heard this, I was concerned that people going through NDEs would not bother looking at pictures on top of file cabinets because they would be more concerned about what was happening down where their body was. I was afraid this was a poorly designed study that would lead to the false conclusion that NDE's were not genuine afterlife experiences. So, I am pleased to learn that Dr. Parnia has been whole-heartedly converted to belief in the afterlife from this work. I don't know if any of his patients have seen the targets, my impression is that his conversion has come from interviewing the patients about their experiences in the afterlife and their ability to describe what was happening around them while they were clinically dead.
I recommend reading the whole summary.
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