Pam Reynolds Lowery from Atlanta, Georgia was an American singer-songwriter. In 1991, at the age of 35, she had a near-death experience (NDE) during a brain operation. Her NDE is one of the most notable and best documented in NDE research because of the unusual circumstances under which it happened. Reynolds was under close medical monitoring during the entire operation. During part of the operation she had no brain-wave activity and no blood flowing in her brain, which left her clinically dead. She made several observations about the procedure which later were confirmed by medical personnel as surprisingly accurate.
This famous near-death experience is considered by many to be proof of the reality of the survival of consciousness after death, and of a life after death.
A CAT scan revealed that Reynolds had a large artery aneurysm in her brain, close to the brain stem. Because of the difficult position of the aneurysm, Dr. Robert F. Spetzler of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona decided that an unusual surgical procedure, hypothermic cardiac arrest, had to be performed. During this procedure, also known as a standstill operation, her body temperature was lowered to 60 °F (16 °C), her breathing and heartbeat were stopped and the blood was drained from her head. Her eyes were closed with tape. Small ear plugs with speakers were plugged in her ears. These speakers emitted audible clicks which were used to check the function of the brain stem to ensure that she had a flat EEG (a non-responsive brain) before the operation proceeded. The operation was a success and Reynolds recovered completely.
During the operation but prior to her being put in cardiac arrest, Reynolds later reported hearing a sound like a natural ‘D’. The sound seemed to pull her out of her body. She reported floating around in the operating room and watching the doctors performing the operation. She felt more aware than normal and her vision was more focused and clearer than normal vision. She made several observations in this state, for example:
- She noticed the doctor using a drill to open her skull. It surprised her that it looked like an electric toothbrush, not like a saw as she expects. It is later confirmed that the drill used by the doctor was similar in appearance to an electric toothbrush.
- She heard a female voice say, “We have a problem. Her arteries are too small.” It is later confirmed that the doctors first tried to connect the heart-lung machine to the right leg. But the arteries were so small that they switched to the left leg.
These examples appear to show that she was able to see and hear during the operation.
At some point during the operation she noticed a presence. Then she was pulled towards a light. As she got closer the light became very bright. She began to discern figures in the light, including her grandmother, an uncle, other deceased relatives and people unknown to her.
The longer she was there, the more she enjoyed it. But at some point in time she was reminded that she had to go back. Her uncle brought her back to her body. When she looked at her body she didn’t want to go back in. Her uncle tried to persuade her, but she kept refusing. Then she saw her body making a jump (caused by the defibrillation to start up her heart). Her uncle gave her a push and she was back in her body.