“I suddenly became aware of hovering over the foot of the operating table”

“I suddenly became aware of hovering over the foot of the operating table” September 21, 2018


Christiansen illustration to Dante
“Dante og Beatrice i Paradis,” by Poul S. Christiansen (1894); public domain via Wikimedia CC


Here are three accounts taken from Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010).


The first comes from a patient who had a near-death experience (NDE) that included an out-of-body component.   The NDE was caused by complications during a surgical procedure.  Please don’t be offended by the slightly rough language:


No, I’d never heard of near-death experiences, and I’d never had any interest in paranormal phenomena or anything of that nature.  What happened was that I suddenly became aware of hovering over the foot of the operating table and watching the activity down below around the body of a human being.  Soon it dawned on me that this was my own body.  So I was hovering over it, above the lamp, which I could see through.  I also heard everything that was said:  “Hurry up, you bloody bastard” was one of the things I remember them shouting.  And even weirder: I didn’t just hear them talk, but I could also read the minds of everybody in the room, or so it seemed to me.  It was all quite close, I later learned, because it took four and a half minutes to get my heart, which had stopped, going again.  As a rule, oxygen deprivation causes brain damage after three or three and a half minutes.  I also heard the doctor say that he thought I was dead.  Later he confirmed saying this, and he was astonished to learn that I’d heard it.  I also told them that they should mind their language during surgery.  (21-22)


The second is the story of a woman who, in a deep coma with no measurable brain activity, was about to be taken off of the ventilator because her treating neurologist had declared her brain-dead:


While she was thought to be in a deep coma without any apparent brain activity, her specialist and husband were having a conversation by her bedside.  The specialist predicted that his patient would be a “vegetable” for the rest of her life and asked the husband to consider taking her off the equipment that was keeping her alive.  The husband was still hopeful of a recovery, so she was kept on the ventilator.  Several months later, the woman woke up, despite the somber prognosis.  It emerged that she had been able to hear through most of her coma and had overheard the conversation between her doctor and husband about passive euthanasia!  She said how awful this had been and that while she had been trying to shout that she was still there, that she wanted to live, be with her husband and children, they were discussing her possible demise.  (23)



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