In 2011, Mr A, a 57-year-old social worker from England, was admitted to Southampton General Hospital after collapsing at work. Medical personnel were in the middle of inserting a catheter into his groin when he went into cardiac arrest. With oxygen cut off, his brain immediately flat-lined. Mr A died.
Despite this, he remembers what happened next. The staff grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED), a shock-delivery machine used to try to reactivate the heart. Mr A heard a mechanical voice twice say, “Shock the patient.” In between those orders, he looked up to see a strange woman beckoning to him from the back corner of the room, near the ceiling. He joined her, leaving his inert body behind. “I felt that she knew me, I felt that I could trust her, and I felt she was there for a reason [but] I didn’t know what that was,” Mr A later recalled. “The next second, I was up there, looking down at me, the nurse and another man who had a bald head.”
Hospital records later verified the AED’s two verbal commands. Mr A’s descriptions of the people in the room – people he had not seen before he lost consciousness – and their actions were also accurate. He was describing things that happened during a three-minute window of time that, according to what we know about biology, he should not have had any awareness of.