Tonight's guest Dannion Brinkley was one of the first to bring attention to the "near death" experience (NDE). In the ensuing years since the publication of his book "Saved by the Light,"(1) numerous other accounts have arisen from people who returned to life after being clinically dead for a certain period of time.
One such person was Pam Reynolds who appeared on Coast in December of 2001 and impressed Art Bell with her story. Reynolds underwent a drastic surgical operation known as "standstill" which involved stopping her heart, freezing her body and draining all the blood from it. During the procedure Reynolds' perspective changed such that she was looking down on her body. But then her attention turned to a light above her. "I had to look up to see it. I can't really say it was in the ceiling. Because it's as if everything faded away and there was no ceiling... I had a physical sensation right over my belly button. You know the feeling when you go over a hill really fast or you're doing a really great rollercoaster? That was the feeling. It felt like the light was pulling me from that area of the body. Like going up an elevator real fast," she told After Dark.
The prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a groundbreaking study of NDE's in late 2001 based on 344 patients who went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived. They concluded that medical factors alone cannot account for the occurrence of NDE, which happened to about 18% of the patients. Curiously, in follow up studies comparing the two groups, those who had undergone a NDE typically had psychological changes in their lives. They had grown more empathetic and accepting of others and were much less afraid of death.