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Dr. Tom Aufderheide and the cardiac arrest patient



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Opening Heaven’s Door – Patricia Pearson

Dr. Tom Aufderheide told the attendees at a 2012 conference on cardiovascular care that he had a patient in cardiac arrest - it was actually his first patient in cardiac arrest as a brand-new doctor - who kept being revived and then rearresting over the course of eight hours.

After an initial flurry of code blue attention, the more senior doctors eventually left the continuous resuscitation efforts to Aufderheide, who was furious at them and thought:

"How could you do this to me?"

When the patient's lunch arrived, some triangulated sandwich or tepid soup, the young doctor decided to eat it.

"I was hungry. So I ate his lunch. I certainly couldn't leave his room, and he wasn't going to eat it."

The patient finally stabilized several hours later, and remained in the hospital for a month. Before he left for home, he spoke to the young Dr. Aufderheide of having had an NDE - the light, the tunnel, all the shattering extraordinariness of it - and then he added teasingly,

"You know I thought it was awfully funny . . . here I was dying in front of you, and you were thinking to yourself, 'How could you do this to me?'

And then you ate my lunch."

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Cardiac arrest