Is there an explanation for near-death experiences? - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Is there an explanation for near-death experiences?


In the course of daily life there is little time to dwell on death - the moment we take our final breath.

"I went into Newton-Wellesley Hospital code blue. No pulse, no heartbeat, no nothing," says Laura Geraghty, of Attleboro, who has a unique perspective on dying.

More than a year ago, she suffered a massive heart attack at work that left her in cardiac arrest for 57 minutes. No pulse, no oxygen, no blood flow. She was given CPR, and shocked with a defibrillator 21 times.

"It's hard to forget Laura because she is a special individual, number one," says Dr. Ken Rosenfield, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Rosenfield says Laura's heart attack was triggered by a blocked L.A.D., the artery that supplies blood to the largest and most important muscle of the heart. He says everyone who treated her simply refused to give up.

"Suddenly she came back again. It was almost like somebody was watching from above. You have to believe she had a mission on this earth to carry out," Dr. Rosenfield says.

Laura's story is remarkable, but maybe more amazing, was the experience she says she had, "I floated up and I looked over my body and I'd seen it there and there were people working on it," Laura says.

She describes a classic near-death experience where she was consumed by an indescribable feeling of peace and happiness.

"You will never find it on earth, it's so hard to describe. You feel so light," Laura says.

She describes floating above her body towards a light where two deceased loved ones were waiting, her mother and ex-husband.

"I reached out my hand for my ex-husband to take it and he wouldn’t and it was like he said it's not your time," Laura says.

Laura says in a field of tall grass with mountains in the distance she felt an energy - a magnet sucking her back into her body - and as it was happening, she says she saw pictures of her son, daughter and granddaughter flash by.

Not everyone encounters the same near-death experience, but there are many similarities. Religious and non-religious people all over the world report a feeling of leaving their body, traveling down a dark tunnel towards a brilliant bright light.

Near-death experiences may be more common than you think. According to the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, more than 800 occur every day, and one study says nearly a quarter of the people in cardiac arrest report having one.

So is this proof of an afterlife? A crossing over? The general feeling among most scientists is no.

"I think it's people experiencing the wonders of the nervous system," says Dr. Martin Samuels, the chair of the neurology department at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He believes the experiences are triggered by blood loss to parts of the brain that affect memory, time and perception.

The sensations do occur, but Samuels believes only in the mind.

"These are all manifestations of this memory distortion that happens when that part of the brain that records memory just isn't getting enough blood, so it's not functioning normally. That's why they tend to be fairly stereotyped, these events," Samuels says.

Other theories include too much carbon dioxide in the blood, REM intrusion-where the mind wakes up before the body-creating hallucinations, and another study suggests people release a flood of endorphins before they die, leading to an altered state of mind.

Laura Geraghty does not accept any earthly explanation for what happened to her. She believes she got a glimpse of what's on the other side. What she describes as life after death.


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