in this world there is nothing certain see death and taxes you've probably heard that quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain or any other number of people but it's at least half true we're not going to get into taxes today that's another episode that's Matt behind the camera agent scully somewhere in the background I'm Ben most importantly you're here thanks for coming this is stuff they don't want you to know death the great arbiter the final casting call the audition that everybody passes the interview that everybody nails there is not a single proven case of someone who lives forever in a way that we would understand not counting Henrietta Lacks and her cancer cells however there are proven cases of people who came back from the dead that's what we're looking at this week we're looking at what happens when you die what does it mean to have certain degrees of death you know like in The Princess Bride where they say oh he's only mostly dead right does that actually happen and most importantly how do people come back what do they see or what do they think they see and is it real here are three examples of people who died and returned number one velma thomas a resident of a town called nitro in West Virginia she suffered cardiac arrest at her house the medics attempted to revive her for about eight minutes worth of CPR they got her heart going again but it stopped twice once they got to the hospital and the doctors there spent more than 17 hours working on her where there was no brain activity they even tried a new technique at the time where they lowered her body temperature simulating hypothermia and it worked Velma Thomas came back from the dead before we get to two we should stop here and note that there are different degrees of dead there's legally dead which is sort of a Kafka esque ridiculous thing if think about it and then there's clinically dead and that's what we're talking about when people come back we're talking about people whose circulatory system has stopped their brain has stopped they're an empty house - Anna Bagon home she was a Swedish radiologist or I should say is a Swedish radiologist because she does come back spoiler alert she was on a ski trip with her friends in Norway when she slipped down a slope her head and her torso hit a frozen stream meltwater got into her clothes she was submerged with just her her feet sticking out for about 80 minutes before she was rescued under under the ice and the doctors there recorded the lowest body temperature they had seen at the time thirteen point seven degrees Celsius by all reports it appears that she had drowned however after intensive care and ten days of slowly like warming her body and bringing her back it turns out that she recovered she returned to the land of the living after you know an estimated of our more of being completely clinically dead of course nobody can come back from such a big thing perfectly right there catches their terms and conditions and I don't mean that in a pet cemetery beginning of a horror movie way what I mean is that Ana experienced lasting nerve damage as a result of this incident three Vanessa tanasul resident of Australia also experiences a heart attack dead she's rushed to the hospital they use a machine called Lucas to to stimulate her heart beating even though her brain is clinically dead and more importantly this is not the only patient that doctors have saved using this technique and your chances of surviving or coming back from brain death due to cardiac arrest are much higher with technology like this now notice that these three cases are just scratching the surface and they all have a couple of things in common we see stuff like lower body temperature we see stuff like cardiac arrest these are some of the main things you probably heard stories of people trapped in the snow entering a kind of hibernation State and surviving that way there's also the story of a baby or more than one baby left out in the cold that managed to also enter a hibernation state where they seemed to be dead they seemed to be in a state of torpor but it's just like someone hit the pause button for a while and this brings us to the other question what do you see when you die on those reports of a bright light and figures from your past just your brains last attempt at anesthesia before everything shuts down or is there something else does the consciousness continue without the brain matter the same way that a radio wave goes through space without an antenna that's we're checking out this week in our audio podcast in the meantime we'd love to hear from you do you have any near-death experiences have you ever gone to the brink and come back let us know in the comments you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter where we are conspiracy stuff and you can email us directly we are conspiracy at howstuffworks.com oh don't forget to stay tuned for our weekly live show on periscope you can find that via Twitter we it's it's weird it's a weird thing you know we had like handmade credits and for anyone who watched last week I'm sorry I wrote it in mirror script guys I when I was looking at it it looked like I had to write it that way and I apologize to anyone who got as much of a headache reading it as I did writing it this time though well if we have credits
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Death is one of, if not the most, enigmatic things in the human experience. We have no proof of life after death, and no clue about what happens to the mind when the body expires. So what's it like to die and return?
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