Saturday, 9 March 2013

Erasing Death

Most people accept your dead when the heart stops. Certainly, it's been proven that brain activity ceases at that point. You're dead. So what about Near Death Experiences? And with no brain activity, there cannot be dreams or Out of Body Experiences. Hallucinations I hear you say. But you simply can't hallucinate when your brain is not functioning. That's the problem with being dead. You're dead!

However, in Japan and some Far East countries they have developed the ability to resuscitate people routinely without brain damage, up to around five hours after death. It's called ECPR. (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation.) In the West this is not available. Yet. It should be though... And all this does raise these curious questions about the state of human consciousness after death. I mean, where does it go? Death is a biological process and after eight hours, it's impossible to bring brain cells back.

The experiment for testing Out of Body Experiences hasn't shown any results yet. (This is where books and objects have been left on top of shelves around patients to verify any OoBE). Frankly, science doesn't know. The standard answer has/is always been, "You've been hallucinating; I'm a doctor, I know." Well, the uncomfortable fact is, nobody actually does know. They are real to the person, just as real as say, depression. And no doctor would tell a patient his symptoms are simply an illusion.

I'm personally very curious about all this due to having vivid memories of when I technically died three times. I actually arrested eleven times, but remember only three. I had no so-called near death experience, or an out of body experience. But those that claim to have these experiences often recall a sense of peace and consequently return to the living world with no fear of death. Thinking about it, I do feel as though time had passed during the event. Only a 'feeling' that time had passed. But losing consciousness was instant. Regaining consciousness was confusing. There was nothing in between. 

And yet, this sense of time passing lingers with me. But how could it? I had, after all, been dead. I recall no light. I recall absolutely nothing at all. But once I was again alive, resuscitated, my consciousness was restored to what it had been before. Yet of course, there was nothing before, because I was dead... So the question is, where had my consciousness gone?  And how did it return? And from where? After all, the brain, it has been shown, ceases to function. Maybe our consciousness does indeed go to a place some call an afterlife... Director of resuscitation, Sam Parnia, has a book on the subject called Erasing Death. 

I do know that death is painless. There is nothing to fear about it. Worrying about its possible nearness or onset is far worse. And if the West takes up ECPR, maybe more people can be returned from the dead.

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