The design of the study, which set it apart from previous NDE studies which were based on surveys, is that it consisted in conducting interviews of all patients treated for cardiac arrect at a series of European hospitals. Each of those patients who survived was asked a series of questions about possible NDE occurring during their heart attack. Afterwards, both NDE and non-NDE patients were followed up at two year and eight year intervals with additional questions about fear of death, the importance of spirituality, and a number of other topics.
The first interesting note is a report of a veridical NDE that occurred during the study:
“During a night shift an ambulance brings in a 44- year-old cyanotic, comatose man into the coronary care unit. He had been found about an hour before in a meadow by passers-by. After admission, he receives artificial respiration without intubation, while heart massage and defibrillation are also applied. When we want to intubate the patient, he turns out to have dentures in his mouth. I remove these upper dentures and put them onto the ‘crash car’. Meanwhile, we continue extensive CPR. After about an hour and a half the patient has sufficient heart rhythm and blood pressure, but he is still ventilated and intubated, and he is still comatose. He is transferred to the intensive care unit to continue the necessary artificial respiration. Only after more than a week do I meet again with the patient, who is by now back on the cardiac ward. I distribute his medication. The moment he sees me he says: ‘Oh, that nurse knows where my dentures are’. I am very surprised. Then he elucidates: ‘Yes, you were there when I was brought into hospital and you took my dentures out of my mouth and put them onto that car, it had all these bottles on it and there was this sliding drawer underneath and there you put my teeth.’ I was especially amazed because I remembered this happening while the man was in deep coma and in the process of CPR. When I asked further, it appeared the man had seen himself lying in bed, that he had perceived from above how nurses and doctors had been busy with CPR. He was also able to describe correctly and in detail the small room in which he had been resuscitated as well as the appearance of those present like myself.
The other fascinating finding of the study was a large difference in the beliefs and additudes of NDE experiencers vs. non-experiencers after their heart attacks:
people who had NDE had a significant increase in belief in an afterlife and decrease in fear of death compared with people who had not had this experience. . .Most patients who did not have NDE did not believe in a life after death at 2-year or 8-year follow-up (table 5). People with NDE had a much more complex coping process: they had become more emotionally vulnerable and empathic, and often there was evidence of increased intuitive feelings. Most of this group did not show any fear of death and strongly believed in an afterlife.