What Happens When We Die?

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On the far side of death, nobody knows what happens. Everyone has an opinion, or a belief. But what about the near side of death — the moments in which we die, the minutes in which we are first dead? Could science reach into that near terrain?

For thousands of years, humans who have crossed over — in battle death or cardiac arrest — and been revived, have recounted similar experiences: looking down on their own bodies, a passage toward light, serenity, loved ones.

Now, a doctor is trying to pin down, scientifically, that passage from life to death.

This hour On Point: What happens when we die?


Sam Parnia, Fellow in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Cornell Medical Center in New York and Senior Research Fellow at the School of Medicine at the University of Southampton in the UK. He's the author of "What Happens When We Die.";
Jerry Baldwin, 63-years-old. He had a 'near death experience' on March 11, 1991 after having full cardiac arrest. EMTs said he was flatlined 3 to 4 minutes.

This program aired on August 24, 2007.


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