Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,” said Parnia, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital and director of the school’s resuscitation research program. “It continues for a few hours after death, albeit in a hibernated state we cannot see from the outside.”Resuscitation medicine grew out of the mid-twentieth century discovery of CPR, the medical procedure by which hearts that have stopped beating are revived. Originally effective for a few minutes after cardiac arrest, advances in CPR have pushed that time to a half-hour or more.New techniques promise to even further extend the boundary between life and death. At the same time, experiences reported by resuscitated people sometimes defy what’s thought to be possible. They claim to have seen and heard things, though activity in their brains appears to have stopped.
People don't die in an instant. It's a process
And then the sould goes on to it's next great adventure.There’s a point used to define death: Your heart stops beating, your brain shuts down. The moment of cardiac arrest. Until fifty years ago, when CPR was developed, when you reached this point, you couldn’t come back. That led to the perception that death is completely irreversible.But if I were to die this instant, the cells inside my body wouldn’t have died yet. It takes time for cells to die after they’re deprived of oxygen. It doesn’t happen instantly. We have a longer period of time than people perceive. We know now that when you become a corpse, when the doctor declares you dead, there’s still a possibility, from a biological and medical perspective, of death being reversed.Of course, if someone dies and you leave them alone long enough, the cells become damaged. There’s going to be a time when you can’t bring them back. But nobody knows exactly when that moment is. It might not just be in tens of minutes, but in over an hour. Death is really a process.