A cardiologist who spent years conducting comprehensive medical investigations into near-death experiences confessed he didn’t always believe they were real.
“I thought the whole thing was a hoax. I really did,” Dr. Michael Sabom explained to Fox News Digital.
Sabom is one of several medical professionals and scientists whose research on near-death experiences is featured in Angel Studios’ new film, “After Death.”
Although he started off as a skeptic, Sabom’s beliefs began to change as he began taking a closer look at these phenomena, nearly 50 years ago. He recounted how a psychiatric social worker, who had a read a book on near-death experiences, asked if he would investigate these claims with his own resuscitated patients.
Sabom started a five-year study at the University of Florida, interviewing over 100 people who had been resuscitated about their experiences for his first book, “Recollections of Death,” published in 1982.
The doctor said he wasn’t convinced by the “transcendent” accounts patients relayed, in visiting relatives or religious figures while unconscious, but he was interested in the out-of-body accounts that could be later verified.
“The part that I was particularly interested in, was the out-of-body, or what I call autoscopic, which is a word meaning self-visualization, where they float up out of their body and say they can see what’s going on in the room about them when they’re unconscious from a near-death event. That is the part that I felt we could verify, one way or the other,” he explained.
Sabom said the majority of the patients he interviewed could only give general descriptions of what they saw during their experience. But six patients gave “very specific details” of things they witnessed going on in the room while they were unconscious, that he was able to verify through their medical record or an eyewitness who was also in the room during their medical event.
“And that was what was particularly interesting to me. And I think the documentation of that part of the experience is the area in which you can separate reality from fantasy. I had originally thought these experiences were hallucinations or delusions or made-up fabrications. But these people were telling me details about what was going on, what was going on in the room during the resuscitation, when I knew that they were physically unconscious and near near-death during the cardiac arrest,” he said.
The doctor said he couldn’t find any explanation for these experiences in medical literature at the time.
“And I left with a big question mark at the end of the book. But I did suggest that something was going on there that could not be explained and needed for further explanation,” he recalled.
Sabom recalled how these patients could recall visions they saw of “very sophisticated instruments” or procedures that were being done in the room at the time. He did a control group study afterward, interviewing cardiac patients from similar backgrounds who had not experienced a near-death experience, to test their knowledge of the resuscitation procedures. He found the majority of the control group made major errors in their descriptions, compared to the patients who had near-death experiences.
While the film he’s featured in gives dramatic recreations of the spiritual experiences some patients described having, Sabom does not personally believe these experiences were visions of Heaven and Hell.
The Christian doctor compared these experiences to Paul the Apostle’s visions in 2 Corinthians.
“My personal belief is that these are not visions of the afterlife,” he said of Paul. “They are pre-death visions. They are spiritual visions.”
Sabom believes his faith convictions about the soul living on apart from the body in the afterlife are consistent with how he interprets these near-death experiences.
“I don’t believe that doctors resurrect their patients. They resuscitate their patients. That’s what I always say. So doctors are not going around resurrecting the patients. Biblically, I think it’s a near-death experience, not an ‘after’ death experience,” he said.
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