Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:

In popular culture, death is quick and final, completely irreversible. But within the last few decades, medical technology has developed to the point that a person who dies may be revived, even after hours without a pulse or respiration. How do you undo death? Our guest, Dr. Sam Parnia, is at the cutting edge of the research in this field.

Hear the remarkable stories of several people who were dead for hours and now are alive and functioning. How can resuscitation science become available to all who need it?

Dr. Parnia is also conducting the AWARE study of individuals who report watching their own resuscitations. What can we all learn from this research?

Guest: Sam Parnia, MD, is director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Medicine. He is a specialist in critical care medicine and the principal investigator of the AWARE study. His new book is Erasing Death: The Science that Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death.

Our previous interview with Dr. Parnia was #713, The Nature of Consciousness.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.


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  1. LMcD

    Very articulate speaker/researcher. Raised many questions that will make many feel uncomfortable, no doubt. Others experiencing similar “out of body experiences” are stroke victims. A few good books and TED presentations have proved most intriguing. Take away message for me? I feel better about loved ones lost.

  2. LRW

    This was an absolutely fascinating show! Most of your shows are, by the way. We listen every week except we are away. It happens that our small group is reading Proof of Heaven and it would have been interesting to hear what the doctor thought of this neurosurgeon’s experience. Thanks for all the wonderful information you bring to us!

  3. Ellen J

    Interesting.We were always told to keep a person warm. I hope more hospitals implement this technique. How will Obamacare affect this?

  4. NM

    Not relevant to the topic in general, but I think the word you are looking for is “fakir” and the dictionary says it’s a Hindu miracle-worker, or an Arabic mendicant. The word “fakir” turned into “faker” in English.

  5. Jim M

    Hearing the title of today’s show, I worried a bit: sounds like a slippery-slope topic leading to areas unrelated to medicine. I wish the speaker had begun by clarifying definitions of the word “death” and how he intended to use them.
    The two that are most relevant to the show are a) the common definition (usually #1) found in most dictionaries, (e.g. “a permanent cessation of all vital functions…” —Merriam Webster), implying an irreversible process; and b) the medical/legal definitions created by communities to identify an event in a patient’s life so that appropriate actions can be taken, based on a set of physiological processes (e.g. “lack of heart and lung function for x minutes” at a given point in time–quite reversable.
    This may seem like semantic quibbling, but I think it’s fundamental to our understanding of the topic. Other definitions, those that involve metaphysics, religion or the supernatural, should not factor heavily on shows such as yours, IMO. But any discussion of what happens after death is sure to trigger these definitions in listeners’ minds, myself included. It would be hard not to mention “after-death experiences” in passing, but the concluding statement about memories during periods when all physiological functions had ceased was a bit too much.
    “Reversing death” is meaningless in the common sense given above. And strictly used, Death in the medical sense is only a set of conditions at a given point in time. Throughout history, individuals have been “medically dead” and have recovered. Those interested can also refer to the article “Definitions of Death“.
    I found the discussion of new technologies and techniques for prolonging life beyond the current definitions of medical death quite informative. I was not able, though, to form an opinion about their current availability and practice at medical facilities. “Medical miracles” are usually interesting and uplifting to hear about, but I would liked to have heard statistics about such things as “return to normal” after resuscitation, incidence of near-ideal conditions, etc. I also have some serious ethical reservations about the assumption that preventing death is always the right thing to do, and would have liked to hear some mention of it.
    As always, I appreciate “The People’s Pharmacy’s” willingness to present the medical party line, the many alternative medicine perspectives…and go out on a limb once in a while.

  6. JMH

    Can’t wait to give this amazing information to a friend who just three or so days ago told me of his situation with perhaps a near death experience. He said he had had heart surgery and “something happened”. He thought he was dying but he felt a sensation of being in waves carrying him gently up and down as in a gentle surf. (It is something he does enjoy when in his boat.) Here it was happening to him as he came “back” and he believes it showed him there IS another “dimension” after life. He felt very comfortable and from that experience he has no fear of death. Lovely. Jean

  7. SJA

    Dr. Parnia said the brain is dead during CPR. But the person undergoing CPR can have memory of this event. What is flawed in this system is either the memory or the definition of brain death.
    I do not doubt that there MAY be some brain function during CPR. I would not doubt that those with memory of said events have limited brain function during CPR. Simply stating the brain is dead does not seem very scientific to me.
    I understand you do not have proper blood pressure to supply well oxygenated blood to the entire brain and it is therefore compromised but stating the brain is 100% fully dead, I think, is mistaken. Some blood flows to what we may call the areas of the brain that get O2 under low blood pressure. I say the tool you use to measure 100% brain death is flawed.
    If the EEG is flat line I would think you cannot say with 100% confidence that every Neuron in the brain is dying and starved of oxygen. If you say the brain is 100% dead then memory will not work either. Do not neurons that are near the carotid artery inside the brain get some good blood during CPR?

  8. cpmt

    There have been several histories like that, I know in India some ‘kefirs?” can stay in a dead state for several days, even buried… I guess is something that humans have to study and learn more about our bodies and our minds. One day we will learn more.

  9. HERNAN S.

    Extremely interesting!
    A theme of vital importance. Wonder how many lives could be saved if the medical techniques discussed were implemented nationwide.
    Are there estimates for the USA ?
    Thanks for a great program !

  10. Michael O. P.

    Its been known for at least 30 years that a person drowning in cold water can be revived after spending hours underwater. Young persons can last up to 10 – 12 hours. Don’t ever give up!
    Listen to our interview with Dr. Parnia (first broadcast Saturday morning at 7:00 am) to get the straight story on this phenomenon.

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