شارفوا على الموت
من المقرر ان يقوم فريق من
الاطباء في 25 مستشفى في بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة بدراسة التجربة التي
سيمر بها 1500 شخص اثناء وجودهم في حالة الموت القلبي بعد توقف القلب و
الدماغ عن العمل.
ويقول بعض ممن مروا بهذه التجربة انهم شاهدوا نفقا، واخرون قالوا انهم
شاهدوا نورا ساطعا بينما قال غيرهم انهم كانوا ينظرون من سقف الغرفة الى
الكادر الطبي في المشفى.
وستسغرق الدراسة ثلاث سنوات تحت اشراف جامعة ساوثمبتون البريطانية وتشمل
وضع صور على رفوف داخل غرف الانعاش لكن لا يمكن مشاهدتها الا عند النظر
اليها من اسقف هذه الغرف.
وصرح الدكتور سام برنيا الذي يتولى الاشراف على هذه الدراسة " اذا استطعنا
ان نثبت ان الانسان يحتفظ بوعيه بعد توقف الدماغ عن العمل هذا قد يعني ان
الوعي حالة منفصلة عن الجسد".
واضاف انهم لا يتوقعون مشاهده حالات كثيرة مثل هذه لكن عليهم الا يهملوها
واذا لم يشاهد هذه الصور اي من المرضى الذي مروا بهذه الحالة فهذا يعني ان
ما يقوله المرضى بعد استعادة وعيهم مجرد اوهام وذكريات كاذبة.
واشار برنيا الى ان التجربة التي يمر بها المرضى في مثل هذه الحالات تعتبر
لغزا حتى الان وهذه هي اول دراسة علمية لها.
والدكتور برنيا الذي يعمل طبيبا بوحدة الرعاية المركزة ادرك من خلال خبرته
اليومية مع المرضى ان التجرية التي يمر بها هؤلاء المرضى لم تخضع للبحث
العلمي بشكل جيد حتى الان. عملية الموت
وقال برنيا ان عملية الموت بعكس الفكرة السائدة لدى اغلبية الناس ليست
لحظية بل عملية تبدأ بتوقف القلب عن النبض ثم الرئتين وبعدها توقف الدماغ
عن النشاط وهو ما يسمى في لغة الطب بتوقف القلب.
خلال مرحلة توقف القلب تجمتع الحالات الثلاث معا وبعد ذلك تبدأ مرحلة قد
تستغرق ما بين عدة ثوان وساعة يقوم خلالها الطاقم الطبي بمحاولة انعاش
المريض واعادة القلب الى العمل بهدف منع وصول المريض الى حالة الموت
ويمكن ان تقدم دراسة تجارب الاشخاص خلال هذه المرحلة فهما جديدا لما يمكن
ان يمر به الانسان خلال عملية الموت.
وسيقوم الفريق بتحليل النشاط الدماغي للمرضى الذين نجوا من الذبحات الصدرية
ومعرفة ما اذا كانوا قادرين على تذكر الصور الموضوعة على الرفوف.
What happens when we die?
A fellow at New York City's Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Sam Parnia
is one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death.
Last week Parnia and his colleagues at the Human Consciousness Project
announced their first major undertaking: a 3-year exploration of the
biology behind "out-of-body" experiences. The study, known as AWARE (AWAreness
during REsuscitation), involves the collaboration of 25 major medical
centers through Europe, Canada and the U.S. and will examine some 1,500
survivors of cardiac arrest. TIME spoke with Parnia about the project's
origins, its skeptics and the difference between the mind and the brain.
What sort of methods will this project use to try and verify people's
claims of "near-death" experience?
When your heart stops beating, there is no blood getting to your brain.
And so what happens is that within about 10 sec., brain activity ceases
- as you would imagine. Yet paradoxically, 10% or 20% of people who are
then brought back to life from that period, which may be a few minutes
or over an hour, will report having consciousness. So the key thing here
is, Are these real, or is it some sort of illusion? So the only way to
tell is to have pictures only visible from the ceiling and nowhere else,
because they claim they can see everything from the ceiling. So if we
then get a series of 200 or 300 people who all were clinically dead, and
yet they're able to come back and tell us what we were doing and were
able see those pictures, that confirms consciousness really was
continuing even though the brain wasn't functioning.
How does this project relate to society's perception of death?
People commonly perceive death as being a moment - you're either dead or
you're alive. And that's a social definition we have. But the clinical
definition we use is when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop
working, and as a consequence the brain itself stops working. When
doctors shine a light into someone's pupil, it's to demonstrate that
there is no reflex present. The eye reflex is mediated by the brain
stem, and that's the area that keeps us alive; if that doesn't work,
then that means that the brain itself isn't working. At that point, I'll
call a nurse into the room so I can certify that this patient is dead.
Fifty years ago, people couldn't survive after that.
How is technology challenging the perception that death is a moment?
Nowadays, we have technology that's improved so that we can bring people
back to life. In fact, there are drugs being developed right now - who
knows if they'll ever make it to the market - that may actually slow
down the process of brain-cell injury and death. Imagine you
fast-forward to 10 years down the line; and you've given a patient,
whose heart has just stopped, this amazing drug; and actually what it
does is, it slows everything down so that the things that would've
happened over an hour, now happen over two days. As medicine progresses,
we will end up with lots and lots of ethical questions.
But what is happening to the individual at that time? What's really
going on? Because there is a lack of blood flow, the cells go into a
kind of a frenzy to keep themselves alive. And within about 5 min. or so
they start to damage or change. After an hour or so the damage is so
great that even if we restart the heart again and pump blood, the person
can no longer be viable, because the cells have just been changed too
much. And then the cells continue to change so that within a couple of
days the body actually decomposes. So it's not a moment; it's a process
that actually begins when the heart stops and culminates in the complete
loss of the body, the decompositions of all the cells. However,
ultimately what matters is, What's going on to a person's mind? What
happens to the human mind and consciousness during death? Does that
cease immediately as soon as the heart stops? Does it cease activity
within the first 2 sec., the first 2 min.? Because we know that cells
are continuously changing at that time. Does it stop after 10 min.,
after half an hour, after an hour? And at this point we don't know.
What was your first interview like with someone who had reported an
Eye-opening and very humbling. Because what you see is that, first of
all, they are completely genuine people who are not looking for any kind
of fame or attention. In many cases they haven't even told anybody else
about it because they're afraid of what people will think of them. I
have about 500 or so cases of people that I've interviewed since I first
started out more than 10 years ago. It's the consistency of the
experiences, the reality of what they were describing. I managed to
speak to doctors and nurses who had been present who said these patients
had told them exactly what had happened, and they couldn't explain it. I
actually documented a few of those in my book What Happens When We Die
because I wanted people to get both angles - not just the patients' side
but also the doctors' side - and see how it feels for the doctors to
have a patient come back and tell them what was going on. There was a
cardiologist that I spoke with who said he hasn't told anyone else about
it because he has no explanation for how this patient could have been
able to describe in detail what he had said and done. He was so freaked
out by it that he just decided not to think about it anymore.
Why do you think there is such resistance to studies like yours?
Because we're pushing through the boundaries of science, working against
assumptions and perceptions that have been fixed. A lot of people hold
this idea that, well, when you die, you die; that's it. Death is a
moment - you know you're either dead or alive. All these things are not
scientifically valid, but they're social perceptions. If you look back
at the end of the 19th century, physicists at that time had been working
with Newtonian laws of motion, and they really felt they had all the
answers to everything that was out there in the universe. When we look
at the world around us, Newtonian physics is perfectly sufficient. It
explains most things that we deal with. But then it was discovered that
actually when you look at motion at really small levels - beyond the
level of the atoms - Newton's laws no longer apply. A new physics was
needed, hence, we eventually ended up with quantum physics. It caused a
lot of controversy - even Einstein himself didn't believe in it.
Now, if you look at the mind, consciousness, and the brain, the
assumption that the mind and brain are the same thing is fine for most
circumstances, because in 99% of circumstances we can't separate the
mind and brain; they work at the exactly the same time. But then there
are certain extreme examples, like when the brain shuts down, that we
see that this assumption may no longer seem to hold true. So a new
science is needed in the same way that we had to have a new quantum
physics. The CERN particle accelerator may take us back to our roots. It
may take us back to the first moments after the Big Bang, the very
beginning. With our study, for the first time, we have the technology
and the means to be able to investigate this. To see what happens at the
end for us. Does something continue?