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Observations placeholder

'Patient 10' with cerebral palsy has both an NDE and OBE



Type of Spiritual Experience


Cerebral palsy is due to damage occurring to the developing brain.  This damage can occur during pregnancy, delivery, the first month of life, or less commonly in early childhood. Structural problems in the brain are seen in 80% of cases, most commonly within the white matter. More than three quarters of cases are believed to result from issues that occur during pregnancy

A description of the experience

The Wisdom of Near Death Experiences - Dr Penny Sartori

Patient l0 reported the deepest NDE in the study - an NDE which had many remarkable components. This did not occur during a cardiac arrest but during a period of deep unconsciousness where he was not responding to verbal stimuli or painful stimuli. This is a very unique case and I was actually the nurse looking after him that day and was present during the time the whole sequence of events occurred.

The patient was making a good recovery from a critical illness and was still ventilated at the time of his experience. After we'd sat the patient in the bedside chair his condition rapidly deteriorated and he very quickly lost consciousness. In the summer of 2013 I once again interviewed patient 10 to investigate if his NDE had led to major changes in his life.

This incident occurred in November 1999 yet despite a time lapse of more than 13 years, the experience remains vivid to the patient, as the following account shows:

Oh yes, I still remember it. It's just as clear, I can see it in my mind very vividly. The first bit I remember is sitting in the chair. The next thing I was floating upwards to the top of the room. I looked down and I could see my body on the bed. It was lovely, so peaceful and no pain at all. All my pain had gone.

I went into this pink room and I could see my father standing next to the man. I said it could have been Jesus but how would I have known because I've never met Jesus before. But his hair was scruffy, you know, like it needed to be combed. He had nice eyes, though; I can remember looking at his eyes. I can remember my father saying things but not with his mouth but we were talking, it’s hard to explain.

Then I felt someone touching my eye, I looked down and saw my body and the doctor and I could see you, Penny. The doctor said something about my eye. Then after that you put that pink lollipop thing in my mouth to clean it. That other girl was there too, she was hiding outside the curtains, she was worried about me and kept looking to see how I was.

Then I heard someone say, 'He's got to go back.'  The Jesus man said it. But I wanted to stay there, it was so nice, I was having a nice time.

And then I was floating backwards and went back into my body. Oh and the pain when I got into my body was terrible, it was awful. I'll always remember that, it was all so clear, When I close my eyes, I can see it all again even though it happened all those years ago. I didn't see that thing you had hidden on the cupboard, though - just what was going on around my body on the bed.

It was very clear, not like those hallucinations I had when I was on morphine. Those hallucinations were terrible, I can't remember them so clearly now but I remember the room was spinning and spiders were running up and down the walls and it felt like the bed was moving and going through walls. No, the death experience was very different to that.

There were some minor aspects that patient 10 had forgotten, such as the name of the physiotherapist, but the NDE appeared to be the same as when he first reported it. The NDE has had a lasting effect on patient 10 and has helped him cope with difficult situations he has faced, such as the death of his wife.

Oh, the experience has had a big effect on my life. I believe in God and I definitely don't worry about death. If the doctor said to me I was going to die tomorrow then I would just sit back and enjoy it. I'm not saying l want to die but I'm saying l won't be afraid when I do go.

I tell everyone I meet not to be afraid of dying.

When my wife died a few years ago I think that if I hadn't had that experience then I would have just wanted to die with her at the same time. I could never have imagined life without her before I had my experience. When she was dying I went up to see her in the nursing home; she opened her eyes and said, 'Thanks for coming to see me I'm going to go with my mother now.' She died shortly after that and I know she’s happy now and that she’s with her mother. I cried, of course, when she died but I just know that wherever she is, she’s happy.

For me the most interesting aspect of this case was how a congenital abnormality appears to have spontaneously resolved following his NDE. Patient 10 has cerebral palsy so from birth his right hand was in a permanently contracted position. This was verified with the patient's sister, who has also signed a statement to verify this.

When I interviewed him he misunderstood my question and opened out his hand. At first I didn’t realize the significance of this until I discussed this with the physiotherapists and the doctors. This should not be physiologically possible as the tendons are in a permanently contracted position so there is, as yet, no known mechanism to explain this aspect. If he had not misunderstood my question it is highly likely that this aspect would have been overlooked as I was not expecting to find it as part of my investigation. When I interviewed him again in 2013 I was curious to see if he could still open his hand.

Well my hand still opens but not so much over the past year. I can't pick money up off the table any more. I can pick notes up and pens but it’s not so easy any more, only this last year. It gets worse in the cold weather and I think I have arthritis in it now. I can still open it, though.

Everything that he reported actually did occur and he reported it with accuracy - I know because I was present for the whole duration but it wasn’t until he regained consciousness that I realized he had been experiencing an NDE and OBE at the time.

The source of the experience

Other ill or disabled person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Cerebral palsy


Being in a coma
Brain damage