Death Becomes Her
Byline: ROBIN TURNER
A FORMER intensive care unit nurse who helped inspire a Clint Eastwood movie about life after death is to teach university students about near death experiences.
Dr Penny Sartori was awarded a PhD by the University of Wales, Lampeter, for researching the spooky world of near-death experiences (NDEs) reported by patients at Swansea's Morriston Hospital.
Over a number of years she built up a portfolio of experiences from patients who, after recovering from being clinically dead, recounted eerily similar experiences of seeing long deceased relatives and drifting towards a soothing light.
The 40-year-old's pioneering work helped with the making of Hereafter, the 2010 Clint Eastwood-directed Hollywood blockbuster starring Matt Damon.
The movie was about people who contacted relatives during their own NDEs and featured the Bourne Identity star as a psychic trying to help people communicate with them.
Dr Sartori, of Uplands, Swansea, will now teach a new generation of students on a Humanities course at Swansea University about NDEs, one of the few courses in the world offering a module on the phenomenon.
She said: "Death is something that will eventually affect each one of us and the greater understanding we have, the more likely it is that we can all undergo a peaceful, dignified transition into death when the time is right.
"We can also provide greater support to those who survive a close brush with death as well as being empowered to live our lives to the full by learning from people who have reported NDEs."
During her research as a front line intensive care nurse, Dr Sartori placed playing cards on top of wardrobes to see if patients who claimed to "float" over surgeons' heads could see them.
No patients spotted the cards, but their graphic reports of meeting dead relatives and, in one case, being dragged to hell by demons, convinced her their brains were working after being declared dead, before they later recovered. …