“The motivation to conduct my research was sparked by the connection I made with a patient I looked after the night before he died. He underwent a prolonged and uncomfortable death which upset me so much that I almost gave up nursing. I looked for nursing courses to help me care for dying patients in Intensive Care Units but there was nothing suitable so I started reading all I could about death.
“When I came across NDEs I became quite curious. Surely, these were not real experiences? These people were telling us that death is nothing to be afraid of. My scientific training as a nurse told me that these were just hallucinations but my curiosity got the better of me. In 1997 I embarked on one of the UK’s first prospective studies of NDEs. It took five years to collect the data and three years to analyse and write it up (and five years to get over it!).
“There have been many misconceptions about the research that I have conducted. The biggest misconception is that I am investigating life after death. I would like to make it clear that this is not what I have been researching. I am trying to gain a greater understanding of the dying process so that care for dying patients can be improved. This has relevance to us all – we are all going to die and I know I don’t want to go through what that man I looked after went through.
“What I found with my research was that some people reported experiences while they were deeply unconscious or their hearts had stopped beating. How can people, whose hearts have stopped and by current definitions are clinically dead, report clear, lucid, well structured experiences when their brains are not fully functional?
“Further to that the Case of Patient 10, who reported an accurate out of body experience and other components of the NDE, demonstrated a spontaneous healing of a congenital abnormality that defies medical explanation.
“When I began my research I naively thought I’d have the answers to all of my questions. The reality is that I don’t have all the answers and my research has raised far more questions than it has answered. I have no option other than to remain open minded and explore all possibilities that may lead me to the answers.”