Once again, elizabeth vargas. Reporter:8 million americans claim to have had a near-death experience, but neurosurgeon eben alexander never thought in a thousand years he would be one of them. What... See More
Once again, elizabeth vargas. Reporter:8 million americans claim to have had a near-death experience, but neurosurgeon eben alexander never thought in a thousand years he would be one of them. What did you think those were. Sfapfantasies. Hallucinations. Reporter: He was a man of scien science. He didn't believe it. Talk about how you got sick. You woke up feeling ill and in pain. It was like being struck by a freight train, 4:30 in the morning woke up. Never had anything like that. My last words to my wife, don't call 911. Trust me, it's muscle spasms and I was gone. Reporter: He had a rare and deadly form of bacterial meningitis which was infecting his brain. In a matter of hours he was on death's door. By the time he got to the hospital he was in a coma. Your wife was told you might die. And she would be raising our two boys without me. As his body lay in that hospital bed with no recognizable brain activity, dr. Alexander said he had begun an astounding journey, a journey to a place he said didn't exist. Did you believe in heaven? When I was younger I thought of god but through my academic career I saw less and less that could be the case. Reporter: The journey he began he said in a darm formless place without memory, language or time. But then -- I was rescued from that by this spinning melody of light that came closer, and opened up, and was a -- a rip in the fabric of reality, that just opened up around me, into this absolutely lovely world of vivid, alive, uh, beauty. Reporter: You describe this world as hyper-vivid. It was, the colors were extremely vivid. And with millions of butterflies, and beautiful colors, and looping, and these flowers blooming, blossoms opening as we flew by. Reporter: And by his side, a presence. At some point during this journey, there was a person guiding you, a beautiful girl, as you describe her. Tell me what she looked like. She had a beautiful face with a wide smile. And high cheekbones, and absolutely gorgeous, clear blue eyes. And with dark eyebrows that -- they kind of emphasized her beautiful face. And she never said a word to me but the thoughts would come directly into my, into my mind, into my awareness. Reporter: What thoughts? And the thoughts are, you are loved, you are cherished, there is nothing you can do wrong. I always remember being told we will teach you many things, but you'll be going back. Reporter: The doctors had written him off, but his wife was beginning to notice changes. On the seventh day of his coma he opened his eyes. It was just nothing but a miracle. Reporter: His first words, the very words he'd heard from his guide that blue-eyed girl. All is well. Don't worry. All is well. Reporter: Within weeks, eben alexander had made an astonishing recovery. How were you different? After this experience? Well, my family says I'm nicer. I would say, uh, really it's changed me in every way by what I've learned about consciousness, and that our souls are eternal. Reporter: The book he's written, "proof of heaven," has sparked a lot of controversy in the three days since it's been published. You know you do have skeptics. Out there who are just saying, you know, we can't explain it but it's not uncommon for people near death to have all sorts of funky things going on inside their bodies. Well, that's why the fact that I had meningitis that was so severe, I mean that should not have allowed for any experience. This was showing how -- his brain was so completely shut down that the visions he had could simply not have been generated there. He says he wrote down ething he remembered. Now in his book, before speaking to anyone who has not detained his memory. He went on to read about other people's near-death experiences. Was it striking how similar what you had written was to what they experienced. It was absolutely astonishing. I really felt the white light was god. I saw my grandmother. You could see peace. You could see love. Reporter: All the other afterlife stories everybody told of being guided by a loved one who had died. You had as your guide a girl you'd never met. I must say that was very haunting. Why would I go through all that and not have my father there. My father who was a neurosurgeon. I idolized him and he passed over four years earlier. Why wasn't he there? Reporter: And why the blue-eyed girl instead. Dr. Alexander had been adopted as a child. Years later he found his birth family. All except for one. His birth sister who died before he met them. Her name was betsy. Reporter: How old was she when she died? She was 36 years old. Reporter: So betsy you'd never met. I just heard what a beautiful loving soul she was, how she -- how she worked in a rapesis center and took care of many people who were unfortunate, and she was just very loving, a loving person. Reporter: How was it you came to see a picture of her? My birth sister, cathy, had promised to send a picture of betsy, and it was about four months after my coming out of the hospital when that picture arrived. Reporter: He opened that envelope and saw it for the first time. The photo he says was of that blue-eyed girl from his vision. And it was so stunning. And that picture, it was almost as if she was saying, "do you get it now?" And I cannot tell you how powerful that was. There was no mistaking it. That's exactly who it was. Reporter: Life is back to normal at the alexander household these day, soccer games to watch, dinners to be shared. Grace to be said but dr. Alexander says he's on a mission now. I hope to tell my story to everyone I possibly can in this world, because I think it could help this world to be a much
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