The woman, who only shared her name as Elizabeth, is one of many people who claim to have profound memories of a near-death experience or NDE. According to Elizabeth, she had “an epiphany about Jesus” seven years ago during brain surgery. While on the operating table, Elizabeth said she could feel God looking down on her.

Elizabeth shared her story with the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF).

She said: “I had been an avid runner for twenty years, had travelled extensively and was now teaching Pilates when I noticed a change in my hip, which had started to feel ‘weird’.

“I thought it was a pinched nerve, but on Sunday in Sept 2012, I had four seizures in one day.

“One of those times, my left leg was stuck in a weird position and I fell over in extreme pain.”

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The next day Elizabeth went to a doctor to demand an MRI of the brain.

The examination revealed a tumour on her brain’s parietal lobe that was about the size of a lemon.

In total, Elizabeth went under the scalpel twice, with the first procedure taking a biopsy of the tumour.

Elizabeth said: “During the second surgery, I had an epiphany about Jesus.

“I felt enormous love from him and I felt horribly sorry I had not gotten closer to him during my life.

Most widespread explanation for near-death experiences is the dying brain hypothesis

Neil Dagnall and Ken Drinkwater, Manchester Metropolitan University

“When I would close my eyes, I would see a white light.

“I felt it was God looking at me and caring for me – and that Jesus was literally holding me.

“I felt safe, but the pain was horrible due to an allergy to morphine.”

At the time of the experience, Elizabeth said everything seemed to have happened at once as if time stood still.

NDEs like Elizabeth’s often share common elements that some might consider supernatural.

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According to Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, people often have visions of light or out-of-body experiences.

He said during an OZ Talk: “A lot of people describe a sensation of separating from themselves and watching doctors and nurses working on them.

“They can hear things and record all conversations that are going on around them.

“Some of them describe a sensation where they review everything that they have done.”

Most experts, however, believe there are natural explanations behind these memories.

In a 2018 article for The Conversation, Manchester Metropolitan University experts Neil Dagnall and Ken Drinkwater analysed some possible explanations.

They wrote: “The most widespread explanation for near-death experiences is the dying brain hypothesis.

“This theory proposes that near-death experiences are hallucinations caused by activity in the brain as cells begin to die.

“As these occur during times of crisis, this would explain the stories survivors recount.”

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