Science is one step closer to confirm the existence of the soul

Imagen: Fresco “La Creación de Adán” (Miguel Ángel Buonarroti, Capilla Sixtina, Vaticano)

They call it spirit, soul, psyche… and its existence has been a matter of discussion for centuries.  Now, an intensivist from the State University of New York at Stony Brook seems to have come a little closer to confirming its existence.

The cycle of life

We are born, we live, and eventually we die.  This is the undisputed cycle of life. Whatever happens before we are born and after we die remains a mystery that has been chasing us ever since the beginning of time and one that philosophers, mystics, and religions of all nations have unsuccessfully tried to solve.  However, it has been a doctor accustomed to looking into the eyes of death every day who has shed some light on this issue.  I’m talking about Dr. Sam Parnia, MD, head of critical care medicine and resuscitation at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Dr. Parnia is a mild-mannered man with a nice tone of voice who seems to have come to the conclusion that, after we die, we do not vanish completely, instead it looks like a part of ourselves lives on somehow.  According to the results from the prospective study AWARE (Awareness during Resuscitation), started over ten (10) years ago, something we could refer to as conscience, psyche, or soul, seems to be immortal.

The AWARE trial

Dr. Parnia started his study back in 2008.  He recruited 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia.  Results have been made public recently.  The study included 2.060 patients who, after having a cardiac arrest, were declared clinically dead.  Only 140 people were resuscitated by Dr. Parnia´s team.  Well, according to the study, 46% of these resuscitated patients said that, while being dead, they had been accompanied by family members, a bright light, or even animals.  Out of these, 2% said they had left their bodies and seen and heard the conversations of the medical team that had been performing the resuscitation maneuvers right from the ceiling of the operating room.  Dr. Parnia wants to make clear that these experiences happened after the patients were declared clinically dead and says that this opens a new line of research on some sort of personal awareness that seems to survive the very process of death.

A light at the end of the tunnel

Dr. Parnia explains that what we understand as clinical death is a process that starts with a cardiac arrest which is, exactly, what his 2,060 patients went through.  Immediately after the cardiac arrest, the brain ceases to receive oxygen, and a doctor proceeds to certify the patient´s death.  However, Dr. Parnia says that death is a process, not an instant, and that it can take hours for some of our body cells to eventually die.  It is during this process of death that he and his team try to bring patients back to life using a complex process through which they cool down the temperature of brain, tissues, and cells.  He explained this process entirely in his manuscript The Effect Lazarus published in 2013.

Dr. Parnia says that although 54% of the 140 patients who died and came back to life said they had no recollection of any experiences lived while being dead, it is possible that they all went through some sort of after-death-experience and simply forgot about it, maybe, due to the medication they had been given.  In my humble opinion, it is possible that, same as it happens with our own birth or with our dreams at night, the patients totally forgot about their death experience.

Win the world and lose your soul

Matthew 16:26 says “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”.  Maybe Dr. Parnia´s study is the loudest cry for hope ever listened in recent memory.  A cry that says that we will not vanish in the dark, that something eternal inside each and every one of us will live on forever.  I wish to end this article the way we have been doing it for quite some time now – with a positive remark.  I wish my closing statement to be a testimony that, I think, is unique.  It is the testimony of one of the patients who came back to life after being resuscitated by Dr. Parnia´s team.  And this document is historic.  It is the first time in medical history that a testimony like this is included as part of an official clinical trial.

“I have come back from the other side of life. . .God sent (me) back, it was not (my) time—(I) had many things to do. . .(I traveled) through a tunnel toward a very strong light, which didn’t dazzle or hurt (my) eyes. . .there were other people in the tunnel whom (I) did not recognize. When (I) emerged (I) described a very beautiful crystal city. . . there was a river that ran through the middle of the city (with) the most crystal-clear waters. There were many people, without faces, who were washing in the waters. . .the people were very beautiful. . . there was the most beautiful singing. . . (and I was) moved to tears. (My) next recollection was looking up at a doctor doing chest compressions”.

AUTHOR Prof. Jorge C. Berriatúa is the Managing Editor of the ICBMed Bulletin and Co-Founder of ICBMed. He did his B.A. in Linguistics and Masters of Education at the University of La Rioja, Spain, and his Masters of Medical Translation at UNED, Madrid, specializing in medical reporting, translating and teaching.

Jorge C. Berriatúa, M.Ed., MSc in Medical Translation

President & Co-founder, ICBMed

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