By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
After Brian Miller, a delivery driver from Ohio, suffered a severe heart attack, it stopped beating for 45 minutes in the hospital. Miraculously, despite doctors failing to bring him back to life after shocking him 4 times to jumpstart his heart, it started beating on its own again. Miller says that while he was dead, he saw himself walking to heaven until his mother-in-law and her dead husband told him to go back to his body. Because the brain requires oxygen to continue functioning, and the heart pumps oxygen to the brain, it’s normally only able to survive up to 6 minutes after the heart stops. This makes Miller’s tale that much more miraculous.
There are numerous studies documenting near-death experiences (NDEs), where someone dies temporarily and then returns with stories of the afterlife. The scientific explanation for NDE visions is that upon temporary “death”, a part of the brain called the pineal gland releases a bunch of hallucination-causing chemicals, like dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and psychedelic ketamine, that creates powerful visions. Despite the possibility of chemicals causing imaginative visions, however, people who have an NDE report surprisingly similar experiences, across multiple cultures, ages, and races. Common similarities include a white light at the end of a tunnel, deceased relatives speaking to a person, and even religious figures like Jesus or Buddha talking to them.