Having examined all aspects of the NDE, the phenomenon remains unexplained when considered from the current scientific perspective of consciousness being a by-product of neurological processes. This small study has suggested that NDEs occurred during unconsciousness in two of the patients and has contributed to the growing body of research in this area. 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.
Cases in which blood was extracted at the time of the NDE / OBE did not support the anoxia or hypercarbia theories. The drugs administered to the patients appeared to inhibit rather than cause the NDE. It must be noted that the sample is too small to be statistically significant; however, the combination of all data from recent and retrospective research provides a large amount of evidence, which can no longer be ignored or explained away. Current reductionist arguments are not supported when this phenomenon is examined in the clinical area. It is therefore essential that further research is conducted in order to establish a wider explanation of the NDE.
By Dr Penny Sartori, R.G.N., Ph.D
This prospective study formed part of a much larger research project into near-death experiences for which the author was awarded a Ph.D of the University of Wales, Lampeter in 2005.