Cardiac surgeon Lloyd W. Rudy was dean of the Heart Program at the University of Georgia School of Medicine and a member of the first heart transplant team at Stanford University. One Christmas Day, one of his patients suffered an aneurysm and died. Dr. Rudy filled out the death certificate, notified the man’s wife, and shut down the machines. Then he and his surgical assistant took off their jackets, gloves, and masks, while talking about what else they could have done.

For some reason, a machine that measured certain body functions, like BP, did not get shut off. In addition, they had inserted a microphone into his body and that continued to record as well. Both showed no signs of life for about 20 to 25 minutes. Then, suddenly, they started showing activity again.

The patient had spontaneously come alive again. It took him a couple of days to regain consciousness, but he eventually made a full recovery without any sign of brain damage. Later, he described the usual bright light at the end of a tunnel.

But he also accurately described where the two surgeons had been talking, their position in the room and how they stood with arms folded over their chests. He described how the anesthesiologist had entered the room and how a nurse’s computer monitor had had a row of post-it notes on it, with some stuck over others.

Not only had he been clinically dead when these things occurred, but he had also still had his eyes taped shut from the surgery. And the description of the room where the doctors talked was seen from above, not from where his body was lying in the bed.

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