Some people who have nearly died on the operating table report being able to soar out of their bodies up to the ceiling and look down on the doctors and nurses trying to save their lives. Last year some British and American hospital doctors began a study to try and find out if it's true. They intend to study near death experiences of 1500 heart attack patients. It will take three years and will be co-ordinated by Southampon University.
Now here's the interesting bit: images will be placed on shelves which are only visible from the ceiling. This should prove if patients can recall these pictures or not.
"Dr Sam Parina said "If you can demonstrate that if consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that consciousness is a separate entity. It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens but we have to be open-minded. But if no one sees the pictures, it proves that these out of body experiences are only illusions.
Dr Parina continues "Contrary to popular perception, 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 to function - 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,up 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", he said.
Among the British hospitals taking part are Addenbrookes in Cambridge, University Hospital in Birmingham and the Morriston in Swansea.
I believe in the white light tunnel theory myself. You've heard the story, you die on the operating theatre or in a motor accident by the side of the road and suddenly you are looking down on the people trying to save your life. Then you're inside a tunnel and drawn towards a brilliant white light at the end of it - you strive to get there because there's an overwhelming sense of peace associated with the light. When you finally get to the end of the tunnel, the next thing you know, all your deceased loved ones are there to meet you and you can't believe how wonderful it is. Then suddenly the process reverses itself and you go back down the tunnel into your body on the operating table or at the crash scene, it's just not your time to go.
I'm rather surprised but pleased they have undertaken this study, I would have thought most doctors would laugh at the idea. Wouldn't it be something if someone died and came back to explain those images on the shelves in detail. Stop laughing, you just never know.