Experience Description

A patient of mine, elderly, (about mid-seventies), had gallstone-induced pancreatitis. She was induced, by general anesthesia, without incident. I BEGAN the operation by making a small incision at the umbilicus. Then, placing the first laparoscopic trochar into the abdomen, the anesthesiologist from California said, 'Jay, I've got a little arrhythmia here - nothing, just a touch.' I continued the operation. About fifteen seconds later he said, 'Jay, she's in what looks like atrial flutter, wait, no V-tach - Shit! She's flat-line.'

Remember, we had total control of her airway, so she was always getting oxygen - and we were monitoring her pulse-oximetry. But her heart stopped. I asked for (calmly) a lead-change, I removed the carbon dioxide from her abdomen - looking around the abdomen to make sure I had done no damage (I hadn't) and then we tore down the drapes and began CPR. I worked on this elderly woman for an hour and a half, I shocked her twenty-three to twenty-eight times (I can't remember the exact number). By this time, the operating room was FULL of people - nurses, orderlies, etc. I continued chest-compressions and shocks according to ACLS protocol (at the time), and her, airway, maintained via an endotracheal tube, continued to receive a hundred percent oxygen.

EVERYBODY - especially the nurses - said, 'Jay, give up - it's over.' I refused because, quite simply, I had done nothing to this patient except make an incision in the abdomen. And yes, we thought about everything; CO2 embolus; inadvertent aortic puncture; loss of airway, wrong/bad cardiac leads; etc. We tried everything! Chest-x-ray was done to r/o pneumothorax.

After twenty-eight shocks (I think), I got her back. She was technically without a cardiac rhythm of her own for an hour and a half.

We took her to the intensive care unit. The family was flabbergasted. They'd thought I had 'done something' to kill her. The staff, and anesthesiologist told the family (more bluntly than I would have) that, 'The only reason your mother is alive is because of Dr. Jay, He refused to give up when everybody else told him to. He's why she's alive.'

That night, Dr. Scott and I, went to the intensive care unit and asked this elderly lady if she 'remembered anything.'

'Yes,' she said, 'I was in the corner of the room - floating - and saw you working on me. You shocked me and I was dead. I saw a massively white bright light and there were two angels there - telling me it wasn't my time and to go back. But I didn't want to.'

The next morning, Dr. Scott and I went back to see how she was doing (remember, this all happened at a SMALL community hospital in California - not big academia - so there WAS skepticism on the family's part). The patient, the following morning, DENIED EVERYTHING.

I transferred the patient to University Medical Center the next day. They (with big balls, I must add), went ahead and took her gallbladder out and THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO THEM. Except, their electro-physiologist (cardiologist) did some cardiac 'mapping' and found this patient had an aberrant conduction system - sensitive to anesthesia - and he put in an automatic defibrillator.

I learned, about a year later, her defibrillator 'kicked' off on her in Las Vegas.

She came back to see me, one-year afterward. One year later, the patient REFUSED to confirm what she had initially told me - and Dr. Scott - that first night in the intensive care unit in California.

From a doctor's viewpoint: Imagine if she'd died? How can you prove an aberrant-conduction defect in a DEAD body? You can't. There is no telling what a court or malpractice company would have said.

Years later, I was appointed to the Board of Medicine. I was on that board for ONLY ten months (never confirmed by the State Senate). I always felt, somehow, qualified to be sitting on the board of medicine - realizing that the death of a patient is often, truly, out of science's hands. We, as doctors, are peons.

I wish I could remember the patient's name, I'll ask my wife, but there is a good chance, the patient (if she's alive all these years later) would deny the story. There was a hospital FULL of people, though, who can confirm this story - verbatim.

Background Information:

Gender: Male

Date NDE Occurred: 1997

NDE Elements:

At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function) 'I am a general surgeon; the event happened to a patient I was operating on AND was witnessed by the Anesthesiologist, at the time, Scott Markel, MD' See below. It has been so many years; I've forgotten the patient's name. But, I'm sure a record search could find it. I became aware of your organization after watching ''White Noise 2'.

How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful

The experience included: Out of body experience

Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I clearly left my body and existed outside it

How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal As above.

At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Don't know - patient would say while she was 'hovering' in the operating room watching us do chest compressions.

Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast

Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning

Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid

Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. See above.

Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. See above.

Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out

Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes

Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them

Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Two Angels.

The experience included: Light

Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin

Did you see an unearthly light? Yes

Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm

The experience included: Strong emotional tone

What emotions did you feel during the experience? See story above.

Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness

Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness

Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world

Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe

Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control

Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future

Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will

God, Spiritual and Religion:

What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal None; I do not know the religious foundations of my patient. She refused to discuss.

Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am more open-minded to a 'reality' outside of our visible spectrum. But why do we not see animals? Cats? Dogs? Killed deer? Do they now have life-energy-force, too? Physics and science MUST apply to them as well, for my explanation to be valid. I am not familiar with the Bible - and can't quote verses saying that only MAN has a soul - because, simply, I don't believe that.

What is your religion now? Liberal 'None; does liberal mean ''none''?'

Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I am more open-minded to a 'reality' outside of our visible spectrum. But why do we not see animals? Cats? Dogs? Killed deer? Do they now have life-energy-force, too? Physics and science MUST apply to them as well, for my explanation to be valid. I am not familiar with the Bible - and can't quote verses saying that only MAN has a soul - because, simply, I don't believe that.

The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings

Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin

Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them

Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:

During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain

Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain

After the NDE:

Was the experience difficult to express in words? No

Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I do not know if her defibrillatory, shocking her in the airport, resulted in any such near-death experience or not.

Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? It seems to fit the video at the end of 'White Noise 2'.'White Noise 1' was particularly interesting, too. The show 'ghost hunters' is odd. I am NOT religious. I am a man of science. But if energy can be NEITHER created, nor destroyed - only transformed - then the 'spirit' represents a life-energy-force that must be transformed. The 'Ghost Hunters' (on SCI-FI Channel) will be famous for their investigations and INTENT to disprove.

Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes But she denied it later. (The following day, she denied it). Remember, the ONLY drugs given to this patient were those for induction of anesthesia [pentothol, maybe diprivan, oxygen, succinyl-choline or rocuronium, etc.).

Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain

What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Remember, it didn't happen to me. But she was 'dead' if you base death on lack of heart-beat.

What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real

At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No

Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? It's good the way it is. What is my faith? Liberal does NOT mean 'None', how about adding a question, 'Are you religious? Agnostic? Atheist?, etc.