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A Long-Term Prospective Study to Investigate the Incidence and Phenomenology of Near-Death Experiences in a Welsh Intensive Therapy Unit, by Penny Sartori, PhD

This is a 5 year prospective Welsh study out of the UK to explore if anoxia, hypercarbia or drug administration could explain the NDE.  Key points in the study were:

1.       It is apparent that NDEs are not wishful thinking as some experiences did not meet the expectations of the patient and two NDEs were unpleasant.  This is consistent with NDERF research findings.

2.       Using the NDE group and those who did not die but who experienced an OBE, Dr. Sabam's study was repeated where the two groups were asked to re-enact their resuscitation.  The OBErs were very inaccurate and demonstrated misconceptions and errors between the actual procedures performed, as well as equipment used.  The NDErs were significantly more accurate.

3.       It is likely that the NDE is an under-reported phenomenon.  Only two NDEs were spontaneously reported to members of staff.  The remaining thirteen NDEs would not have been disclosed had the patients not been interviewed. 

4.       Most of the population were given painkilling and sedative drugs.  The conclusion was that if drugs were the cause of the NDE then a larger percentage of NDEs would be expected.  There were cases who reported "similar to NDEs became they became very confused once painkilling drugs had been administered." This statement assumes that because the person did not remember the NDE while impaired by drugs that it the NDE wasn't real.  While this finding may show that drugs interfere with the immediate memory of the NDE, this study does not address whether the NDE was remembered after the person was no longer under the influence of drugs. 

5.       All but one patient who reported hallucinations had been given a combination of large amounts of sedative and painkilling drugs.  The NDEs followed a pattern, yet the "hallucinations were very random, bizarre and related to actual occurrences and the actions of members of staff.  On follow-up, those who had reported hallucinations could rationalize that they had been hallucinating, whereas NDErs remained adamant that their experience was real."

6.       Cases in which blood was extracted at the time of the NDE / OBE did not support the anoxia or hypercarbia theories.

7.       "Further unexplained aspects of the NDE, such as meeting deceased relatives who were not known to be dead at the time of the experience and gaining information in ways other than through the senses, could not be explained by physiological or psychological factors."

The conclusion of the study is that the NDE phenomenon remains "unexplained when considered from the current scientific perspective of consciousness being a by-product of neurological processes. The fact that clear, lucid experiences were reported during a time when the brain was devoid of activity (Aminoff et al., 1988, Clute and Levy 1990, de Vries et al., 1998), does not sit easily with current scientific belief."

 

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