Near-Death Experiences News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on near-death experiences
From the ages of 2 to 6, James Leininger seemed to recall in striking detail a "past life" he had as a World War II Navy pilot who was shot down and killed over the Pacific. The boy knew details about airplanes and about pilot James Huston Jr. that he couldn't have known. James' parents say he also had terrible nightmares about a plane crashing and a "little man" unable to get out. James, now 8, stills loves airplanes, but he is free of those haunting images of the pilot's death. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist and medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Virginia, is one of the few researchers to extensively study the phenomenon of children who seem to have memories of past lives. He says James' case is very much like others he has studied. "At the University of Virginia, we've studied over 2,500 cases of children who seem to talk about previous lives when they're little," Tucker said. "They start at 2 or 3, and by the time they're 6 or 7 they forget all about it and go on to live the rest of their lives." Tucker -- the author of Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives -- has seen cases like James' where children make statements that can be verified and seem to match with a particular person. "It means that this is a phenomenon that really needs to be explored," Tucker said. "James is one of many, many kids who have said things like this." While about three-fourths of Americans say they believe in paranormal activity, 20 percent believe in reincarnation, according to a 2005 Gallup poll.
Probably the oldest mystery to vex mankind is what, if anything, occurs after death. For a decade, Kenneth Ring, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Connecticut, has looked into the question through the near-death experiences of others. Mr. Ring ... talked with hundreds of people between the ages of 18 and 84 who have come close to physical death. [His books] Life at Death [and] Heading Toward Omega both deal with near-death experiences and how they change people's lives. A near-death experience ... often happens to individuals who find themselves on the verge of imminent biological death. It involves ... a sense of the most profound peace and well-being that is possible to imagine. It's a sense of being separate from the physical body and sometimes being able to see it as though a spectator off to one side or from up above. These people have a sense of moving through a dark space or tunnel toward a radiantly beautiful white or golden light. They are absorbed in that light, having in some cases a panoramic life review in which virtually everything that they've ever done in their life they're able to see; perhaps meeting the spirits of deceased love ones or friends. And in some cases, they are asked to make a decision as to whether they would like to continue or go back to their body. The most powerful antidote to the fear of death is coming close to death ... and remembering one of these experiences. After having a near-death experience, people believe the end of life isn't [the end]; they believe in some sort of life after death. [Those] who have a near-death experience almost totally lose their fear of death.
Note: The documented experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and come back to life are some of the most mind-boggling and inspiring cases to have ever surfaced. Read some of the most amazing of these cases and explore other excellent resources on the topic.
[Guest Host Jeff Probst]: Was a World War II fighter pilot reincarnated in a little boy's body? Bruce [and Andrea] Leininger say yes. They are authors of Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot. Their book describes how their son James had memories of a WWII pilot who was killed in battle more than 60 years ago. James is now 11 years old. Andrea, when did you first realize that ... James was having ideas or stories that he wanted to share about this? Andrea Leininger: [It] started about two weeks after James' second birthday. He had a -- a night terror, which he had never had before. And this first nightmare began a series of nightmares that started occurring every other night, every night. And after several months of this, he was having a nightmare and ... I was able to finally determine what he was saying. And he was saying, "airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out." Probst: Bruce, even at three, he was -- James was drawing pictures of an airplane crashing. Bruce Leininger: By the time he started drawing those pictures, he'd been talking about this ... for several months. And he essentially gave us three items of information over about a three month period. One, he gave us the name of the ship, which I verified through research on the Internet. "Natoma Bay." He gave us a name Natoma. About a month later, he gave us [the] name of a guy he said he flew with. When we asked him if there was anyone else in his ... dream that he could remember. Jack -- Jack Larson.
Note: Jack Larson was confirmed to be a member of the crew of the Natoma Bay, who when contacted, remembered the incident of the crash described by this boy. Watch an excellent, intriguing four-minute Fox News clip on this fascinating case.
As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. I had somehow contracted a very rare bacterial meningitis that mostly attacks newborns. E. coli bacteria had penetrated my cerebrospinal fluid and were eating my brain. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states. What I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial. “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” “You have nothing to fear.” “There is nothing you can do wrong.”
Note: The author of this stirring account, Dr. Eben Alexander, was a neurosurgeon for 25 years. His engaging book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, see this webpage. And explore other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences.
Near-death experiences have gotten a lot of attention lately. Two recent books by doctors - Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, who writes about a near-death experience he had while in a week-long coma brought on by meningitis, and To Heaven and Back, by Mary C. Neal, who had her NDE while submerged in a river after a kayaking accident—have spent 94 and 36 weeks, respectively, on the [New York Times best-seller] list. Their stories are similar to those told in dozens if not hundreds of books and in thousands of interviews with “NDErs,” or “experiencers,” as they call themselves. Many of these stories relate the sensation of floating up and viewing the scene around one’s unconscious body; spending time in a beautiful, otherworldly realm; meeting spiritual beings (some call them angels) and a loving presence that some call God; encountering long-lost relatives or friends; recalling scenes from one’s life; feeling a sense of connectedness to all creation as well as a sense of overwhelming, transcendent love; and finally being called ... back into one’s own body. There is something about NDEs that makes them scientifically intriguing. Many NDEs happen when a person is surrounded by an arsenal of devices designed to measure ... the body. What’s more, as medical technology continues to improve, it’s bringing people back from ever closer to the brink of death. This makes NDEs perhaps the only spiritual experience that we have a chance of investigating in a truly thorough, scientific way.
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What does a NDE look and feel like? There are thousands upon thousands of descriptions, all of which show striking similarities between different people's experiences -- the white light, a tunnel, a life review and sense of peace -- so there does seem to exist a unifying thread throughout. Caroline Myss, a best-selling author and a speaker on spirituality and health, focuses on the first explanation. "A near-death experience is a phenomenon in which a person's physical body ceases to have any signs of life, and the soul detaches from the body and begins what could be called the journey into the afterlife. ... A long tunnel of light begins to appear. ... What's so phenomenal is that the descriptions [people] give, no matter what culture, no matter what background, match the ancient descriptions ... from various cultures. So if these experiences were in fact made up or hallucinatory, somebody did a very good job of getting that information out to multiple cultures at the same time." Dr. Jeffrey Long runs the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. He defines the physical conditions of someone having a NDE as "unconscious ... or actually clinically dead, with absent heartbeat and no spontaneous respiration. ... And yet when they shouldn't have any conscious remembering at this time, they do. ... While no two NDEs are the same, if you study large numbers of NDEs you see that very consistent pattern of elements."
At least 15 million American adults say they have had a near-death experience, according to a 1997 survey -— and the number is thought to be rising with increasingly sophisticated resuscitation techniques. In addition to floating above their bodies, people often describe moving down a dark tunnel toward a bright light, feeling intense peace and joy, reviewing life events and seeing long-deceased relatives—only to be told that it's not time yet and land abruptly back in an ailing body. "There are always skeptics, but there are millions of 'experiencers' who know what happened to them, and they don't care what anybody else says," says Diane Corcoran, president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, a nonprofit group in Durham, N.C. The organization publishes the Journal of Near-Death Studies and maintains support groups in 47 states. In his new book, Evidence of the Afterlife, Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist in Louisiana, analyzes 613 cases reported on the website of his Near Death Research Foundation and concludes there is only one plausible explanation: "that people have survived death and traveled to another [mode of existence]." "The self, the soul, the psyche — throughout history, we've never managed to figure out what it is and how it relates to the body," [said Sam Parnia, a critical-care physician]. "This is a very important for science and fascinating for humankind."
About fifty years ago, Dr. Bruce Greyson was eating pasta in the hospital cafeteria when his beeper went off. Greyson, a psychiatrist, was urgently needed in the ER to treat a college student who had overdosed. He called her name – "Holly" – and tried to rouse her. But she didn't stir. The next morning, Greyson returned to work at the hospital. Holly stirred. "I remember you from last night," she mumbled. "I saw you talking with Susan, sitting on the couch." Suddenly Holly opened her eyes, looked Greyson in the face and added, "You were wearing a striped tie that had a red stain on it." Greyson began studying these so-called near-death experiences (NDEs) from a scientific standpoint, collecting hundreds of stories from those who've had them. He discovered that ... many people who survive the jaws of death report strange out-of-body experiences. Since meeting Holly, Greyson has published hundreds of academic papers. His search for answers is chronicled in his new book "After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond." Near-death experiences are fairly common. Some 10 percent to 20 percent of people who come close to death report them – about 5 percent of the population. So what is going on? Greyson, who grew up in a scientific household and is not religious, says he doesn't know. "But I think the evidence overwhelmingly points to the physical body not being all that we are," he says. "There seems to be something that is able to continue after the body dies."
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Clinically, we understand death to mean the state that takes hold after our hearts stop beating. Philosophically, though, our definition of death hinges on something else: the point past which we’re no longer able to return. Those two were more or less the same until about 50 years ago, when we saw the advent of CPR. Modern resuscitation ... blew apart our understanding of what it means to be dead. Without many people returning from the dead to show us otherwise, it was natural to assume, from a scientific perspective, that our consciousness dies at the same time as our bodies. Over the last few years, though, scientists have seen repeated evidence that once you die, your brain cells take days, potentially longer, to reach the point past which they’ve degraded too far to ever be viable again. People who survive medical death frequently report experiences that share similar themes: bright lights; benevolent guiding figures; relief from physical pain and a deeply felt sensation of peace. Because those experiences are subjective, it's possible to chalk them up to hallucinations. Where that explanation fails, though, is among the patients who have died on an operating table or crash cart and reported watching ... as doctors tried to save them, accounts subsequently verified by the (very perplexed) doctors themselves. How these patients were able to describe objective events that took place while they were dead, we're not exactly sure. But it does seem to suggest that when our brains and bodies die, our consciousness may not.
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There is scientific evidence to suggest that life can continue after death, according to the largest ever medical study carried out on the subject. A team based in the UK has spent the last four years seeking out cardiac arrest patients to analyse their experiences, and found that almost 40 per cent of survivors described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were declared clinically dead. Dr Sam Parnia ... who led the research, said that he previously [believed] that patients who described near-death experiences were only relating hallucinatory events. One man, however, gave a “very credible” account of what was going on while doctors and nurses tried to bring him back to life – and says that he felt he was observing his resuscitation from the corner of the room. About the evidence provided by a 57-year-old social worker ... Dr Parnia said: “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating. “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.” Dr Parnia’s study involved 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals ... and has been published in the journal Resuscitation. 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.
Note: See our near-death experience resource center for lots more fascinating, reliable information on this vital topic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about near-death experiences.
They can fly through walls or circle the planets, turn into pure light or meet long-dead relatives. Many have blissful experiences of universal love. Most do not want to return to the living. When they do, they're often endowed with special powers: They can predict the future or intuit people's thoughts. These are the testimonies of people who have had near death experiences (NDEs) and returned from the other side to tell the tale. Journalist Judy Bachrach decided to listen to their stories. [National Geographic:] Your book, Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death, [describes] one scientist [who] suggests that NDEs may simply result from the brain shutting down, ... that, for instance, the brilliant light often perceived at the end of a tunnel is caused by loss of blood or hypoxia, lack of oxygen. How do you counter these arguments? [Bachrach:] The problem with the lack of oxygen explanation is that when there is a lack of oxygen, our recollections are fuzzy and sometimes non-existent. The less oxygen you have, the less you remember. But the people who have died, and recall their death travels, describe things in a very clear, concise, and structured way. Lack of oxygen would mean you barely remember anything. [NG:] You suggest there is a difference between brain function and consciousness. Can you talk about that idea? [Bachrach:] The brain is possibly ... not the only area of consciousness. Even when the brain is shut down, on certain occasions consciousness endures. One of the doctors I interviewed, a cardiologist in Holland, believes that consciousness may go on forever. So the postulate among some scientists is that the brain is not the only locus of thought.
Note: Watch a profound BBC documentary on near-death experiences. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing NDE news articles from reliable major media sources. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.
A clinical psychologist, [Mary Jo] Rapini had long worked with terminal cancer patients. When they told her of their near-death experiences, she would often chalk their stories up as a reaction to their pain medication. But in April 2003, she faced her own mortality. She suffered an aneurysm while working out [in] a gym and was rushed to the hospital. She was in an intensive care unit for three days when she took a turn for the worse. “All of a sudden [doctors] were rushing around me and inserting things into me, and they called my husband,” she [said]. “I looked up and I saw this light; it wasn’t a normal light, it was different. It was luminescent. And it grew. I kept looking at it like, ‘What is that?’ Then it grew large and I went into it. I went into this tunnel, and I came into this room that was just beautiful. God held me, he called me by name, and he told me, ‘Mary Jo, you can’t stay.’ And he said, ‘Let me ask you one thing — have you ever loved another the way you’ve been loved here?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s impossible. I’m a human.’ And then he just held me and said, ‘You can do better.’ ” While Rapini’s account may seem far-fetched, [Dr. Jeffrey] Long [in his book Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences] says her recollections mirror nearly all stories of near-death experiences.
We've all heard the stories about near-death experiences: the tunnel, the white light, the encounter with long-dead relatives. Now some researchers are giving a closer neurological look at near-death experiences and asking: Can your mind operate when your brain has stopped? Pam ... Reynolds' journey began one hot August day in 1991. An MRI revealed an aneurysm on her brain stem. "The aneurysm was very large, which meant the risk of rupture was also very large," [Dr. Robert] Spetzler says. "And it was in a location where the only way to really give her the very best odds of fixing it required what we call 'cardiac standstill.'" "I was lying there on the gurney ... unconscious," Reynolds recalls. "I don't know how to explain this ... I popped up out the top of my head." She found herself looking down at the operating table. She could see 20 people around the table and hear what sounded like a dentist's drill. Soon after, the surgeons began to lower her body temperature to 60 degrees. It was about that time that Reynolds believes she noticed a tunnel and bright light. She eventually flat-lined completely, and the surgeons drained the blood out of her head. During her near-death experience, she says she chatted with her dead grandmother and uncle, who escorted her back to the operating room. As they looked down on her body, she could hear the Eagles' song "Hotel California" playing. A year later, she mentioned the details to her neurosurgeon. Spetzler says her account matched his memory.
Note: Read the entire fascinating story at the link above to learn more about this woman who had to die in order to live. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles on near-death experiences.
Cameron Macaulay was a typical six-year-old, always talking about his mum and family. He liked to draw pictures of his home too — a long single-storey, white house standing in a bay. But it sent shivers down his mum’s spine — because Cameron said it was somewhere they had never been, 160 miles away from where they lived. And he said the mother he was talking about was his “old mum.” Convinced he had lived a previous life Cameron worried his former family would be missing him. [He] said they were on the Isle Of Barra. Mum Norma, 42, said: “Ever since Cameron could speak he’s come up with tales of a childhood on Barra. He spoke about his former parents, how his dad died, and his brothers and sisters. Eventually we just had to take him there to see what we could find. It was an astonishing experience. Cameron wouldn’t stop begging me to take him to Barra. It was constant. When we got to the island and DID land on a beach, just as Cameron had described, he turned to ... me and said, ‘Now do you believe me?’ He got off the plane, threw his arms in the air and yelled ‘I’m back.’" The Macaulays booked into a hotel and began their search for clues to Cameron’s past. Norma said: “We contacted the Heritage Centre and asked if they’d heard of a Robertson family who lived in a white house overlooking a bay." Next the family received a call from their hotel to confirm that a family called Robertson once had a white house on the bay. Norma explains: “We didn’t tell Cameron anything. We just drove towards where we were told the house was and waited to see what would happen. He recognised it immediately and was overjoyed. But as we walked to the door all the colour drained from Cameron’s face and he became very quiet."
The question of what happens when we die is a mysterious one. But for some who have been through near-death experiences, the question has a clear answer. Anita Moorjani ... shared her story. "I crossed over into the afterlife and back," said Moorjani. Diagnosed with lymphoma in 2002, Moorjani ... was losing her cancer battle, withering down to just 85 pounds and battling tumors. She slipped into a coma in February 2006. She said that’s when she died and crossed over to an afterlife. “I felt as though I was above my body,” she said. “It was like I had 360-degree peripheral vision of the whole area.” According to [her] book "Dying To Be Me", she was reunited in that state with her late father, who told her to turn back. “But I felt I didn't want to turn back, because it was so beautiful. It was just incredible, because, for the first time, all the pain had gone. And I felt as though I was enveloped in this feeling of just love. Unconditional love.” Citing an “incredible clarity,” she said she decided to return to her body because she believed “it would heal very, very quickly.” It did. “Within four days, my tumors shrunk by 70 percent, and the doctors were shocked,” she said. “And I kept telling everyone that, ‘I know I'm going to be okay. I know it’s not my time to die.’” Moorjani isn’t alone in connecting a "crossing over" experience to healing.
Note: Read an awesomely inspiring essay on Anita's incredible journey through death. The above article also introduces the healing of 8-year-old Annabel Beam after a near-death experience. Annabel's story is detailed in the book “Miracles from Heaven”. For more, explore concise summaries of NDE news articles and other fascinating resources on this incredible topic.
The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely. Scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And 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. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines. “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University ... who led the study. “But 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. The man described everything that had happened in the room." Of 2060 cardiac arrest patients studied, 330 survived and of 140 surveyed, 39 per cent said they had experienced some kind of awareness while being resuscitated. One in five said they had felt an unusual sense of peacefulness. Some recalled seeing a bright light. 13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies.
It was January 14, 1999, and Mary Neal ... crested at the top of the first big drop in the river. She looked down into what she later described as a bottomless pit. Then she went over. The front end of her boat got pinned in the rocks, submerging her in the water. Pinned in the boat and out of air, Neal started to give up. "I really gave it all over to God, and I really said, 'Your will be done,'" she said. [She] was sucked out of the bottom of the boat by the current -- with her legs bending back over her knees. "I could feel the bones breaking. I could feel the ligaments and the tissue tearing. I felt my spirit peeling away from my body, sort of like peeling two pieces of tape," Neal recounted. As one of her friends grabbed her wrist to try to pull her out of the water, Neal realized she was outside her body watching the rescue effort. "I could see them pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR," she said. "I had no pulse, and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back. ...My body was purple and bloated. My pupils were fixed and dilated." She watched people work on her, but she felt none of it. "When I saw my body, I actually thought 'Well, I guess I am dead. I guess I really did die,'" Neal said. As she watched, she said she was met by "these people or these spirits" who started to guide her toward a brightly lit path toward what appeared to be a domed structure. "It was exploding, not just with light and brilliance and color but with love," she said. There, she spoke with the spirits. They told her it was not her time to die, that she still had a job to finish, Neal said. Then she was back in her body, breathing again. Those involved estimate that Neal had been without oxygen for 30 minutes.
Note: Don't miss the highly inspiring four-minute interview with Mary Neal at the link above. Another CNN interview of seven minutes is available here. For more, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles on near-death experiences, click here.
A baffling and beautiful rescue [raises] questions about the power of prayer. People are scouring some 70 photographs looking for man they swear they saw at the scene of a car accident. He prayed, a life was saved. Why did he disappear, even from the photos. It's being called the Missouri miracle. A teenager with a beautiful smile, 19-year-old Katie Lentz, trapped in her mangled car, hit by a drunk driver. And first responders trying to get her out. [The] fire chief ... was concerned, because he was out of options. The tools weren't working. While inside that car, Katie had one request, to pray with the rescuers out loud. And then, right there, amidst the rows of corn, at the scene blocked off for nearly a mile, a man appears. He was dressed with a black priest's shirt, with a white collar. He had a small little white container of anointment oil. He asked if he could anoint the girl in the car. They allowed him to do it. A sense of calmness came over her. [One firefighter said] "we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work." Moments later, it happened. A neighboring fire department arrives with a new set of stronger tools, finally able to cut through in the frame. They all turned to thank the priest, but he was gone. In fact, in all of those photos at the scene, no sign of the priest. Tonight, family and friends are grateful. Whether it was just a priest serving as an angel, or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie. Katie's mother [was] very pleased that Katie's near tragic accident provides proof to all that miracles still happen. In Katie's words, pray out loud. Everyone at the scene, touched by that stranger.
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If your hospital is in Belgium, Dr. Steven Laureys may pay you a visit, interested to hear what you remember from your NDE, or near-death experience. Laureys heads the Coma Science Group at the university hospital in the city of Liege. NDEs feel "even more real than real," Laureys said. Laureys and his team studied the near-death memories of people who survived -- in particular those of coma patients -- with the help of a psychological examination. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire tests for sensory and emotional details of recollections and how people relive them in space and time. In other words, it gauges how present, intense and real a memory is. They compared NDEs with other memories of intense real-life events like marriages and births, but also with memories of dreams and thoughts. Memories of important real-life events are more intense than those of dreams or thoughts, Laureys said. "If you use this questionnaire ... if the memory is real, it's richer, and if the memory is recent, it's richer," he said. "To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors," Laureys reported. The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. "The difference was so vast," he said with a sense of astonishment. Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich "as though it was yesterday," Laureys said. "Sometimes, it is hard for them (the patients) to find words to explain it."
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