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Sam Parnia

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Title: Sam Parnia  
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Sam Parnia

Sam Parnia
Born London, England.
Fields Intensive-care medicine
Institutions Stony Brook University School of Medicine
Alma mater University of London (M.D.)
University of Southampton (Ph.D.). Weill Cornell Medical Center
Known for

Cardiac Arrest and Brain Resuscitation. Consciousness & Awareness during Cardiac Arrest.

Cognitive Sequelae of Surviving Cardiac arrest including Near Death Experiences

Sam Parnia is an Assistant professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received his medical degree from the Guy's and St Thomas’ Hospitals (UMDS) of the University of London in 1995 and his PhD in cell biology from the University of Southampton in the UK in 2006. Parnia is director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York in Stony Brook and an honorary fellow at Southampton University Hospital.


Parnia graduated from Guys and St. Thomas' medical schools in London (1995), completed his medical residency at the University of Southampton, UK and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, USA and completed a Ph.D in cell and molecular biology at the University of Southampton in 2006.[1]


Parnia has been actively involved in cardiac arrest resuscitation since the late 90s, when he was a member of the Southampton University Trust Hospitals resuscitation committee. One of his areas of concentration has been in the incorporation of cerebral oximetry during cardiac arrest care as a marker of the quality of oxygen delivery to the brain during resuscitation. His research also focuses on the study of the human mind and consciousness during the period after cardiac arrest. This research has included investigation of near-death experiences.[2]

Near-death research

In 2003, Parnia and Peter Fenwick appeared in the BBC documentary "The Day I Died". [3] In the documentary Parnia and Fenwick discussed their belief that research from near-death experiences (NDEs) indicates the mind is independent of the brain. According to Susan Blackmore the documentary mislead viewers with beliefs that are rejected by the majority of scientists. Blackmore criticized the documentary for biased and "dishonest reporting".[4]

In his book Erasing Death and a series of interviews, Parnia has explained that although most people view death as irreversible, he claims that resuscitation research shows it may be reversible.[5][6] Parnia has said he is uncertain the brain produces the mind and has suggested that memory is not neuronal.[7] He has claimed that research from NDEs may show the "mind is still there after the brain is dead". The neurologist Michael O'Brien has written "most people would not find it necessary to postulate such a separation between mind and brain to explain the events," and suggested that further research is likely to provide a physical explanation for near-death experiences.[3]

In 2001, Parnia and colleagues investigated out of body claims by placing figures on suspended boards facing the ceiling, not visible from the floor. Parnia wrote "anybody who claimed to have left their body and be near the ceiling during resuscitation attempts would be expected to identify those targets. If, however, such perceptions are psychological, then one would obviously not expect the targets to be identified."[8] The philosopher Keith Augustine, who examined Parnia's study, has written that all target identification experiments have produced negative results.[9] Psychologist Chris French wrote regarding the study "unfortunately, and somewhat atypically, none of the survivors in this sample experienced an OBE."[10]


Parnia is the principal investigator of the AWARE study (AWAreness during REsuscitation), which was launched in 2008. The study includes medical centers across the UK, mainland Europe and North America. [11][12][13][14][15][16] AWARE is a multidisciplinary multicenter international collaboration of scientists, physicians and nurses. This study incorporates testing of awareness and near-death experiences (NDE) during cardiac arrest with methods aimed at measuring the quality of oxygen delivery to the brain. Critics have expressed concern with the NDE research as it presents difficulty in the realm of informed consent.[17]

As part of the AWARE study Parnia and colleagues have investigated out of body claims by using hidden targets placed on shelves that could only be seen from above.[18] Parnia has written "if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories".[18] Parnia issued a statement indicating that the first phase of the project has been completed and the results are undergoing peer review for publication in a medical journal.[19] No subjects saw the images mounted out of sight according to Parnia's early report of the results of the study at an American Heart Association meeting in November 2013. Οnly two out of the 152 patients reported any visual experiences, and one of them described events that could be verified.[20]

On October 06, 2014 the results of the study were published in the journal Resuscitation.[16][21][22][23]

Among those who reported a perception of awareness and completed further interviews, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections in relation to death that were not compatible with the commonly used term of NDEs. These included fearful and persecutory experiences. Only 9 per cent had experiences compatible with NDEs and 2 per cent exhibited full awareness compatible with OBEs with explicit recall of 'seeing' and 'hearing' events. One case was validated and timed using auditory stimuli during cardiac arrest.[21] According to Dr. Caroline Watt "The one ‘verifiable period of conscious awareness’ that Parnia was able to report did not relate to this objective test. Rather, it was a patient giving a supposedly accurate report of events during his resuscitation. He didn’t identify the pictures, he described the defibrillator machine noise. But that’s not very impressive since many people know what goes on in an emergency room setting from seeing recreations on television."[24][25]

Selected bibliography

  • What Happens When We Die (Hay House, 2006)
  • Erasing Death: The Science That is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death (Harper Collins, 2013)
  • The Lazarus Effect: The Science That is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death (Ebury Publishing, 2013)


  1. ^ "Donnad | University of Southampton". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  2. ^ USA (2013-08-12). "parnia s, - PubMed - NCBI". Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  3. ^ a b O'Brien, Michael . (2003)."The Day I Died". British Medical Journal. 326(7383): 288. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  4. ^ Susan Blackmore. (2004). "Near-Death Experiences on TV". Sceptic Magazine 17. pp. 8-10. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  5. ^ Sam Parnia (2013-02-20). Erasing Death' Explores The Science Of Resuscitation"'". NPR. Retrieved 2013-12-16. 
  6. ^ Evers, M. "Doctor Sam Parnia Believes Resurrection Is A Medical Possibility". Der Spiegel, published online July 29, 2013 (originally published in German in issue 30/2013 (July 22, 2013) of Der Spiegel)
  7. ^ Tim Adams. (2013). "Sam Parnia – the man who could bring you back from the dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  8. ^ Parnia, S; Waller, D. G; Yeates, R; Fenwick, P. (2001). A Qualitative and Quantitative Study of the Incidence, Features and Aetiology of Near-Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest Survivors. Resuscitation 48: 149–156.
  9. ^ Keith Augustine. (2008). "Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences". Internet Infidels. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  10. ^ French, Chris. (2005). Near-Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest Survivors. Progress in Brain Research 150: 351-367.
  11. ^ University of Southampton News release. "World’s largest-ever study of near-death experiences". 10 September 2008, Ref: 08/165
  12. ^ Stephey, M.J. "What Happens When We Die?" TIME magazine, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008
  13. ^
  14. ^ Weintraub, Pamela. "Seeing The Light". Psychology Today, published online September 02, 2014
  15. ^ UCR Today News. "Science Research Grants Related to Immortality Announced". University of California (Riverside), May 21, 2013
  16. ^ a b Stony Brook University News. "Stony Brook Professor Leads World’s Largest Medical Study on the State of Mind and Consciousness at the Time of Death". Published online, October 9, 2014
  17. ^ Sebastian Dieguez. (2009). "NDE Experiment: Ethical Concerns". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  18. ^ a b Jane Dreaper. (2008). "Study into near-death experiences". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  19. ^ AWARE Study Update 2014. Published online at "Horizon Research Foundation".
  20. ^ Bowman, Lee (December 20, 2013). "Scientists looking closer at what happens when body dies; edge closer to new understanding".  
  21. ^ a b Parnia S, et al. "AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study". Resuscitation (2014).
  22. ^ University of Southampton News release. "Results of world's largest Near Death Experiences study published". 07 October 2014. Ref: 14/181
  23. ^ Cai, S. “Study finds awareness after death in patients”. The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, published online October 23rd, 2014
  24. ^ "One not too impressive study does not prove life after death". Doubtful News.
  25. ^ "No, this study is not evidence for "life after death". James Randi Educational Foundation.
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