The woman introduced herself as Teresa and said she was struck down by a mystery illness back in 1993. Although Teresa did not die, she was taken to hospital with symptoms that included shivering, sweating and a bad headache. After being given some medication and being sent to another hospital in an ambulance, Teresa recalls finding herself inside of an otherworldly tunnel.

Theresa, who is Catholic, said the so-called near-death experience at first left her thinking she went to hell.

The tunnel was pitch black but had rings around it “like a vacuum hose”.

Theresa said: “I was losing consciousness in the ambulance but I thought hold on with all my strength. I felt I was slipping away fast.

“The next thing I noticed I was without pain. More alert my mind has never been clearer or more alive than in that moment.”

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And though she could not see or hear anyone else in the tunnel, Theresa knew she was not alone.

She said: “Then I started speaking to God. I’ll never forget it I said, ‘Father do with me as you will I hand my life over to you.’

“As soon as I said that, I was back in my body. How I can’t say I just was.

“I looked at the person sitting with me and he was slapping my face calling my name. He said, ‘I thought we lost you.’

“When we arrived at the hospital there was a whole bunch of doctors waiting for my arrival.”

The existence of an ‘afterlife’ remains a matter of belief, not scientific proof

NHS

In the aftermath of the incident, Theresa shared her experience with the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF).

The experience served to reinvigorate Theresa’s belief in an almighty creator and life after death.

She said: “When their time comes, they will know that there is so much more to life than just our earthly existence.

“I thank God so much for letting me come back and live according to his teachings.”

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However, many medical experts believe NDEs can be explained through non-natural means.

In the UK, the NHS does not consider NDEs to be genuine instances of a person dying.

The NHS said: “A more accepted definition of death is when brain stem death occurs, which is when all neural activity in the deepest brain ceases.

“While it is possible to keep the heart functioning using life support systems, a person with brain stem death has permanently lost the potential for consciousness.

“The existence of an ‘afterlife’ remains a matter of belief, not scientific proof.”

The NHS said it is “perfectly plausible” people on the brink of death continue to have thoughts and experiences if oxygen is still flowing to the brain.

Some experts also speculate NDEs are hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen in the brain.

Another theory suggests NDEs are caused by dying brain cells.

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