Ever since the awareness of near-death experiences burst upon the popular consciousness with the publication of Raymond Moody’s 1975 bestseller Life After Life, there has been a steady stream of books, articles, and movies on the subject. These have come from people in all professions and all walks of life.
More recently, several medical doctors have weighed in on the subject.
Doctors are in an interesting position. On the one hand, since near-death experiences commonly take place during medical emergencies, doctors are often present when people have them. On the other hand, because of their extensive scientific training doctors are often skeptical that near-death experiences are anything other than the desperate hallucinations of a dying, oxygen-deprived brain.
But when the doctors themselves have a near-death experience, they come out with a very different perspective.
Dr. Mary Neal
Here is a talk by Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, about her near-death experience, which took place in 1999 during a white-water kayaking accident:
To Heaven and Back, by Mary C. Neal, M.D.
Before she nearly died by drowning, Dr. Neal more-or-less believed in God and heaven . . . but she really didn’t have time to pay them much heed. That all changed due to her other-world experience while she was trapped underwater, not breathing, for a quarter of an hour.
Here is the book she wrote about her near-death experience and how it radically changed her perspective on life:
To Heaven and Back
A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again
A True Story
Erasing Death, by Sam Parnia, M.D.
Though Dr. Sam Parnia has not himself had a near-death experience, he is becoming known as one of the few scientists interested in studying death itself, including near-death experiences, from a scientific perspective. In 2007 he published the book, What Happens When We Die? A Groundbreaking Study into the Nature of Life and Death.
This year he has published a follow-up book. Its most startling assertion: death is nowhere near as cut-and-dried, nor as final, as we have generally believed up to now. Here is a recent interview with Dr. Parnia in which he summarizes some of his findings:
And here is the first part of a talk given by Dr. Parnia about near-death experiences:
Dr. Parnia’s new book is:
The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death
Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, M.D.
Neurosurgion Eben Alexander did not believe in any afterlife . . . until he experienced it for himself. A rare and deadly form of meningitis shut down his brain and put him in a coma for a week. The doctors were giving up on him and considering ending his treatment when he suddenly opened his eyes, much to everyone’s astonishment.
After making a near-miraculous full recovery he set about telling his amazing story, which was published last year. He tells his powerful and touching story in this interview:
And here is the book he published about it:
Proof of Heaven:
A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife
Is there really “proof” of heaven? Of course, the skeptics will say no. Yet for those whose minds are open and willing to hear the testimony of these highly rational, intelligent, and scientifically trained physicians, there is enough evidence to come to a more positive conclusion about the afterlife.
Dr. Lee Woofenden
Okay, I’m not a doctor, medical or otherwise . . . and I haven’t had a near-death experience either. But since this is my blog, here’s a book I wrote and published about near-death experiences, the afterlife, and our process of spiritual rebirth right here on earth:
Death and Rebirth
From Near-Death Experiences to Eternal Life
For more on what happens after we die, and after we move beyond the brief introduction to heaven experienced by people who have close brushes with death, I invite you to read my previous article: What Happens To Us When We Die?
See also: Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?