Evidence for the Validity of NDEs
Dr. Kenneth Ring's & Madeline Lawrence's research

Some near-death experiences have been corroborated by witnesses. Although such evidence does not constitute scientific evidence it would certainly qualify as "circumstantial evidence" able to be upheld in a court of law. Dr. Kenneth Ring has published a paper with the Journal of Near-Death Studies concerning such evidence in the summer of 1993 issue. Perhaps the most famous case of this kind is that of Maria, originally reported by her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark (1984). Maria was a migrant worker who, while visiting friends in Seattle, had a severe heart attack. She was rushed to Harborview Hospital and placed in the coronary care unit. A few days later, she had a cardiac arrest and an unusual out-of-body experience. At one point in this experience, she found herself outside the hospital and spotted a single tennis shoe sitting on the ledge of the north side of the third floor of the building. Maria not only was able to indicate the whereabouts of this oddly situated object, but was able to provide precise details concerning its appearance, such as that its little toe was worn and one of its laces was stuck underneath its heel. Upon hearing Maria's story, Clark, with some considerable degree of skepticism and metaphysical misgiving, went to the location described to see whether any such shoe could be found. Indeed it was, just where and precisely as Maria had described it, except that from the window through which Clark was able to see it, the details of its appearance that Maria had specified could not be discerned. Clark concluded: "The only way she could have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence for me. (Clark, 1984, p.243). The following are excerpts reprinted by permission of Dr. Ring's and Madeline Lawrence's IANDS research paper.

Case One

In 1985, Kathy Milne was working as a nurse at Hartford Hospital.  Milne had already been interested in near-death experiences, and one day found herself talking to a woman who had been resuscitated and who had had a near-death experience.  Following a telephone interview with Dr. Kenneth Ring on August 24, 1992, she described the following account in a letter:

"She told me how she floated up over her body, viewed the resuscitation effort for a short time and then felt herself being pulled up through several floors of the hospital.  She then found herself above the roof and realized she was looking at the skyline of Hartford.  She marveled at how interesting this view was and out of the corner of her eye she saw a red object.  It turned out to be a shoe ... [S]he thought about the shoe ... and suddenly, she felt "sucked up" a blackened hole.  The rest of her near-death experience was fairly typical, as I remember.

"I was relating this to a [skeptical] resident who in a mocking manner left.   Apparently, he got a janitor to get him onto the roof.  When I saw him later than day, he had a red shoe and became a believer, too." (K. Milne, personal communication, October 19,1992)

After Dr. Ring's initial interview with Milne, he made a point of inquiring whether she had ever heard of the case of Maria's shoe [as described in the introduction above].  Not only was she unfamiliar with it, but she was utterly amazed to hear of another story so similar to the one she had just recounted to Dr. Ring.   It remains an unanswered question how these isolated shoes arrive at their unlikely perches for later viewing by astonished nders and their baffled investigators.

Case Two

In the summer of 1982, Joyce Harmon, a surgical intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Hartford Hospital, returned to work after a vacation.  On that vacation she had purchased a new pair of plaid shoelaces, which she happened to be wearing on her first day back at the hospital.  That day, she was involved in resuscitating a patient, a woman she didn't know, giving her medicine.  The resuscitation was successful, and the next day, Harmon chanced to see the patient, whereupon they had a conversation, the gist of which (not necessarily a verbatim account) is as follows (J. Harmon, personal communication, August 28, 1992):

The patient, upon seeing Harmon, volunteered, "Oh, you're the one with the plaid shoelaces!"

"What?"  Harmon replied, astonished.  She says she distinctly remembers feeling the hair on her neck rise.

"I saw them," the woman continued.  "I was watching what was happening yesterday when I died.  I was up above."

Case Three

In the late 1970s, Sue Saunders was working at Hartford Hospital as a respiratory therapist.   One day, she was helping to resuscitate a 60-ish man in the emergency room, whose electrocardiogram had gone flat.  Medics were shocking him repeatedly with no results.  Saunders was trying to give him oxygen.  In the middle of the resuscitation, someone else took over for her and she left.

A couple of days later, she encountered this patient in the ICU.  He spontaneously commented, "You looked so much better in your White top."

She, like Harmon, was so shocked at this remark that she got goose-bumps, for she had been wearing a White smock the previous day.

"Yeah," the man continued, "I saw you.  You had something over your face and you were pushing air into me.  And I saw your White smock."

Saunders confirmed that she had had something over her face - a mask - and that she had worn the White smock while trying to give him oxygen, while he was unconscious and without a heartbeat (S. Saunders, personal communication, August 28, 1992).

Discussion

The three cases presented above briefly attest to three important observations:

(1)  Patients who claim to have out-of-body experiences while near-death sometimes describe unusual objects that they could not have known about by normal means.

(2)  These objects can later be shown to have existed in the form and location indicated by the patients' testimony.

(3)  Hearing this testimony has a strong emotional and cognitive effect on the caregivers involved, either strengthening their pre-existing belief in the authenticity of near-death experiences or occasioning a kind of on-the-spot conversion.

"In the light of the near-death experience, death is nothing more than the illusion of separateness and finality, and those who can believe in this vision of death, like NDErs themselves, lose all fear of it, for how can you fear that which does not exist?" - Dr. Kenneth Ring, IANDS founder

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