The largest-ever study of near-death experiences has been launched and will include selected hospitals in Europe and North America. The study is led by Dr Sam Parnia, an expert in the field of consciousness during clinical death at the University of Southampton.
“Contrary to popular perception,” Dr Parnia explains, “death is not a specific moment. It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning – a medical condition termed cardiac arrest, which from a biological viewpoint is synonymous with clinical death.
“During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process. What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process.”
A number of recent studies have demonstrated that 10-20 per cent of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report lucid, well structured thought processes, reasoning, memories and sometimes detailed recall of events during their encounter with death.
source: University of Southampton (2008, September 10). “World’s Largest-ever Study Of Near-Death.” image: Stockphoto/Felix Möckel.