Researchers, Medical Workers Debate Near-Death Experiences - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/7/06-Houston

Researchers, Medical Workers Debate Near-Death Experiences

This is part two of in a series of reports on Near-Death Experiences.

"It is an experience for them of another reality. The vast majority will describe a experience that was dominated by pleasurable experiences like peace, joy and love."

It's the common thread that runs through nearly all of the descriptions from people who have come back from the dead.

"Seeing an entering a light that is a being, that emanates absolute knowing of the person and absolute loving of them,"  says Jan Holden, who studies near-death experiences at the University of North Texas.   She's part of a growing research field.

So is career emergency room nurse Debbie James.

"I have been an ICU nurse my whole life, and initially I can't say I was very interested in it," James says. 

That changed more than 20 years ago when she saw how emotional some of her patients became. 

"One man said 'I hate you, how could you do this to me?' That doesn't make any sense because I thought that if you would help them come back -- that you would resuscitate them from fibrillation -- that they would thank you and they'd be appreciative, and some of them weren't," she says.

James is now the Interim Director of Nursing Education at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where 300 doctors, nurses, researchers, and those who have had a near-death experience gathered in October to compare notes, descriptions, and accounts.

Each one on their own would be intriguing.  Oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long says details made him believe. 

"Is what they saw reasonable? Does it look like reality? And the answer is 98-99 percent, yes, including things they see which are astonishing," he says.

Long has spent the last eight years operating an online forum for those who say they've had an out-of body experience.  The postings are anonymous and descriptive. Many say they saw themselves from above, as doctors tried to bring them back from the dead.

"That is the point in time when people are seeing and hearing things about them during their resuscitation. That is absolutely medically inexplicable," Long says.

Debbie James says a man, clinically dead, heard every voice,  even recalling the power settings that shocked him back to life. 

"This man was in fibrillation -- no pulse, no breathing -- but he can remember 200, 300, 360 [Joules] in the exact order... [foul] language] and all the paramedic.  You have to pay attention to that -- someone who's dead, clinically dead, can all of the sudden tell you what happened in the resuscitation," she recalls.

Some out-of-body experiences include floating above a lifeless body. But others say they're taken to another world -- what they believe is the doorstep of heaven. 

"I've had it described as love, but love times a billion, times a billion -- unlike anything that we could possibly experience here on Earth," says Dr. Long.

"Just a peaceful floating sensation, moving rapidly through a dark space, sometimes it's a tunnel, sometimes it's a void. Sometimes it's just non-descript," says Holden.

James says while it's good that some medical professionals have started to study those who have near-death experiences, others still ignore stories altogether, or discount those that don't follow preconceived formulas.

"For some [health workers,] there's a checklist.  Tunnel thing, check. Light, check.  Seeing others, check.  [Others say] I was in the most beautiful white peace. Others say I was in the most beautiful blackness I've ever seen.  I don't know what that means. Black seems pretty dark to me," she says.

Is it real? It is to them.

"They know what it's like to die. They know from their own personal experience that there's an after-life and it's wonderful," says Dr. Long.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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