Published: November 2012
"My experience showed me that the death of the body and brain is not the end of consciousness... What happened to me while I was in a coma is the most important story I will ever tell. But it's a tricky story to tell because it is so foreign to ordinary understanding."
When prominent US neurosurgeon Dr Eben Alexander goes into a coma after contracting a severe brain infection, his doctors tell his family to prepare for the worst - death or, at best, survival in a vegetative state.
Remarkably, Dr Alexander wakes up seven days later with his faculties intact. Just as extraordinary is his detailed recall of a near-death experience. Based on all that is known about how the brain works, Dr Alexander had no capacity, while in the coma, to create thought; his neocortex, the part of his brain that makes us human, had effectively shut down. So how was it that he awoke with a coherent and profound set of memories?
Near-death experiences have been well documented, but rarely with the kind of rigour and insight offered here. Dr Alexander has spent his adult life unravelling the mysteries of the human brain through the prism of medical science. His personal story is a moving account of facing death, and a compelling case for the survival of consciousness beyond the demise of the body.