'I died for seven minutes – here's what I saw and learned from the experience'

-Credit: (Image: Massachusetts General Hospital/A)

A man who was clinically dead for seven minutes has recounted his extraordinary experience of the afterlife.

The individual, an astrophysics PhD with over four decades of academic experience, found himself in hospital this March due to breathing difficulties. It was there that he suffered a lung haemorrhage leading to cardiac arrest, prompting a 'code blue' emergency call among medical staff.

Sharing his story on Reddit, the man detailed: "It took the doctors seven minutes to get my heart started again. During that time, I had a stroke due to the lack of oxygen in my brain."

He continued, revealing the confusion upon waking: "I woke up intubated and only semi-conscious for two days, then fully regained consciousness and asked, 'What happened? ' It is hard to correlate inner time to what was happening outside, but I can make some sense of it."

His vision while 'dead', however, has given him a new perspective on mortality. He confessed: "I'm not scared of dying, not in the least. Afraid of what comes before, sure, but nature makes dying easy."

Describing his otherworldly sight, he said: "I saw a series of three oval ellipses, one at a time, just suspended in a black space. The ellipses were all upright, as though they were suspended by a string (but they weren't), and they all had a thickness to them, like a ring. On the inner and outer surfaces of the first ellipse I saw mountains, streams, forests, and clouds.

"They were beautiful at first, but then they began to sour as their colours took on a yellow tinge. It faded away, and was replaced by a second ellipse that was a hot ring of iron, so hot that pieces of iron were slowly crumbling from it."

He described the sensation of smelling iron, which he later realised could be the scent of blood, suggesting his visions might have been influenced by the actual smells in the room.

The man continued: "I now take it that this is when I was in cardiac arrest. Suddenly the scene brightened to reveal the third ellipse that was covered with beautiful clouds that were light pink and blue, like from the most beautiful sunrise or sunset. That, I believe, is when my heart started beating again. When I regained consciousness, those three ellipses remained firmly fixed in my memory. When I was told days later about my cardiac arrest and stroke, it all began to make sense to me."

In an attempt to understand his experiences, he explained that he had been delving into Johannes Kepler's 'Astronomica Nova' and pondering how Kepler deduced that planetary orbits are elliptical, not circular. This preoccupation, he surmised, led him to subconsciously fixate on ellipses during his cardiac event.

"That's all I saw," he said. "No tunnel of light or happy deceased family members welcoming me. I think that's dreaming, and dying reflect what happens to be most accessible in your mind during that time. Your mind tells you a story about it. I was never afraid during my ordeal, I was just a dispassionate observer. Amazingly, the only lasting effect of my seven minutes of code blue is a slightly diminished capacity of my short-term memory."