Did Pam Reynolds Have a Near Death Experience?


Michael Sabom

Article ID:



Apr 13, 2023


Apr 16, 2009

The following is an excerpt from article DD282-1 from the Christian Research Journal. The full PDF can be viewed by clicking the link below the excerpt.


The case of Pam Reynolds has been widely acclaimed as the “single best instance we now have in the literature on NDEs to confound the skeptics”4 and as the one coming “closest to providing solid, scientific evidence suggestive of the post-mortem survival of consciousness.”5 Pam was wheeled into the operating room at 7:15 a.m. on 8 August 1991 for repair of the first of two giant cerebral aneurysms by Robert Spetzler, chief of neurosurgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. A weakness in the walls of two arteries in her brain had caused the arteries to swell, and rupture was considered imminent. Anesthesia was induced. Both ear canals were occluded with a small, molded ear speaker designed to monitor brainstem function; an electroencephalogram (EEG) was set up to monitor cortical brain waves; and a unique electrical device was affixed to test the function of her cerebral hemispheres.6

At 8:40 a.m., Pam Reynolds’NDE began with the buzzing noise of the bone saw motor:

It was a natural D. As I listened to the sound, I felt it was pulling me out of the top of my head.…I remember seeing several things in the operating room when I was looking down.…I was meta-phorically sitting on Spetzler’s shoulder. It was not like normal vision. It was brighter and more focused and clearer than normal vision.…There was so much in the operating room that I didn’t recognize, and so many people.… The saw thing that I hated the sound of looked like an electric toothbrush and it had a dent in it, a groove at the top where the saw appeared to go into the handle, but it didn’t.…And the saw had interchangeable blades, too, but these blades were in what looked like a socket wrench case.… I remember the heart-lung machine. I didn’t like the respirator.…I remember a lot of tools and instruments that I didn’t readily recognize.7

After cutting open the skull, Spetzler isolated the aneurysm. At 10:50 a.m., Pam was placed on cardiopulmonary bypass to quickly cool her core body temperature. As her temperature fell to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, her heart stopped, her EEG flattened into complete electrocerebral silence, and her brainstem and cerebral hemispheres became unresponsive. The head of the operating room table was then tilted up, the cardiopulmonary bypass machine turned off, and the blood drained from her body. Pam’s NDE progressed:

There was a sensation like being pulled, but not against your will. I was going on my own accord because I wanted to go.…It was like a tunnel but it wasn’t a tunnel. At some point very early in the tunnel vortex I became aware of my grandmother calling me.…The feeling was that she wanted me to come to her, so I continued with no fear down the shaft. It’s a dark shaft that I went through, and at the very end there was this very little tiny pinpoint of light that kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The light was incredibly bright, like sitting in the middle of a lightbulb.… I noticed that as I began to discern different figures in the light — and they were all covered with light, they were light, and had light permeating all around them — they began to form shapes I could recognize and understand.… They would not permit me to go further.… I wanted to go into the light, but I also wanted to come back. I had children to be reared.8

After the blood had been drained from her body, the aneurysm collapsed, which allowed Spetzler to safely excise the empty sac. The cardiopulmonary bypass machine was turned back on, and the blood was rewarmed. Her vital signs and brain function returned with no evidence of a seizure. Still in her NDE, Pam recalls being led down the tunnel by her deceased uncle and reentering her chilled physical body as her heart was shocked back to normal rhythm. The operation ended at 2:10 p.m.

Nine days later, she underwent repair of the second cerebral aneurysm. This time hypothermic cardiac arrest was not necessary. While under anesthesia, tests of brainstem and cerebral hemispheric function showed “well maintained responses.” No NDE was reported.

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