“And the Lord God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” -Genesis 2:7
Research conducted by 32 scientists in the United States, United Kingdom, and Austria discovered the astounding fact that individuals in a state of cardiac arrest, i.e., their hearts and respiration have stopped and, within seconds, cessation of all brain function, nevertheless experienced consciousness, despite clinically undetectable consciousness.
Their findings are published as an article titled “AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study,” in the journal Resuscitation (September 2014).
The researchers discovered this a 4 year multi-center study of 2,060 cardiac arrest (CA) survivors in 15 US, UK and Austrian hospitals. The method used was a three stage quantitative and qualitative interview system, including specific tests to determine the accuracy of the survivors’s claims of visual and auditory awareness while in a state of cardiac arrest.
The researchers found that these individuals, while their hearts had stopped, nevertheless experienced a broad range of cognitive themes, with 2% exhibiting full awareness. The scientists conclude that their findings supports other recent studies that indicate consciousness may be present despite clinically undetectable consciousness.
Among 2060 CA events, 140 survivors completed stage 1 interviews. 101 of these 140 patients completed stage 2 interviews.
These were the research’s findings:
1. 46% of CA survivors had memories with 7 major cognitive themes:
- Fear: “I felt scared”; “I was terrified. I was told I was going to die and the quickest way was to say the last short word I could remember”; “Being dragged through deep water with a big ring and I hate swimming—it was horrid”.
- Animals/plants: “All plants, no flowers”; “Saw lions and tigers”.
- Bright light: “The sun was shining”; “Recalled seeing a golden flash of light”.
- Violence/persecution: “Being dragged through deep water”; “This whole event seemed full of violence and I am not a violent man, it was out of character”; “I had to go through a ceremony and … the ceremony was to get burned. There were 4 men with me, whichever lied would die…. I saw men in coffins being buried upright.”
- Deja-vu: “…experienced a sense of De-ja vu and felt like knew what people were going to do before they did it after the arrest. This lasted about 3 days.”
- Family: “Family talking 10 or so. Not being able to talk to them”; “My family (son, daughter, son-in-law and wife) came”.
- Events immediately post-CA: Experienced “a tooth coming out when tube was removed from my mouth”.
2. 9% had near death experiences (NDEs):
- One person’s NDE: “I have come back from the other side of life…God sent (me) back, it was not (my) time—(I) had many things to do…(I traveled) through a tunnel toward a very strong light, which didn’t dazzle or hurt (my) eyes…there were other people in the tunnel whom (I) did not recognize. When (I) emerged (I) described a very beautiful crystal city… there was a river that ran through the middle of the city (with) the most crystal clear waters. There were many people, without faces, who were washing in the waters…the people were very beautiful… there was the most beautiful singing…(and I was) moved to tears. (My) next recollection was looking up at a doctor doing chest compressions”.
3. 2% described awareness with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” actual events related to their resuscitation:
- “At the beginning, I think, I heard the nurse say ‘dial 444 cardiac arrest’. I felt scared. I was on the ceiling looking down. I saw a nurse that I did not know beforehand who I saw after the event. I could see my body and saw everything at once. I saw my blood pressure being taken whilst the doctor was putting something down my throat. I saw a nurse pumping on my chest…I saw blood gases and blood sugar levels being taken.”
4. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.
The scientists express perplexity about their findings:
“there is no measurable brain function within seconds after cardiac standstill. This ‘flatlined’ isoelectric brain state which occurs with CA onset usually continues throughout CPR since insufficient cerebral blood flow (CBF) is achieved to meet cerebral metabolic requirements during conventional CPR. However it was estimated our patient maintained awareness for a number of minutes into CA. While certain deep coma states may lead to a selective absence of cortical electrical activity in the presence of deeper brain activity, this seems unlikely during CA as this condition is associated with global rather than selective cortical hypoperfusion as evidenced by the loss of brain stem function. Thus, within a model that assumes a causative relationship between cortical activity and consciousness the occurrence of mental processes and the ability to accurately describe events during CA as occurred in our verified case of VA [visual awareness] when cerebral function is ordinarily absent or at best severely impaired is perplexing. This is particularly the case as reductions in CBF [cerebral blood flow] typically lead to delirium followed by coma, rather than an accurate and lucid mental state.”