Written by Michael
2003 - As reported in Spirit
Daily.com online newspaper. We've often reported on those who
say they've had a glimpse of Jesus. We've recounted cases that involve
seers. We've related the claims of those who say they've encountered
Him during near-death experiences. Cardiologist Dr. Michael Sabom
of St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta takes it a step further, detailing
the incredible account of Darrell Pell, a 34-year-old grocery store
manager who "died" (and then returned) while waiting for
a heart transplant. What makes the case special is not just that
Pell claimed to have encountered Jesus, but the fact that at
his bedside -- his deathbed -- his wife also witnessed the apparition.
in Dr. Sabom's excellent book, Light and Death: One Doctor's Fascinating
Account of Near-Death Experiences. The date: July 31, 1994. Time:
about 9:50 a.m. Place: Saint Joseph's Hospital. That was where an
alarm went off indicating the first of what turned out to be a week
of ten cardiac arrests for Pell, multiple serious medical procedures,
and a near decision to discontinue treatment (and let Darrell die).
It sounds like
a real horror story, except that Darrell later described it as the
"best week" of his life!
It started during
that first cardiac arrest for this man who wasn't even a practicing
Christian. Suddenly, everything around him became an incredible
sky blue, and Pell saw the faces of relatives, friends. Spontaneously,
he began to recite the Scripture verse from Psalm 23 (about the
"valley of the shadow of death"). As he did so he found
his spirit hovering at ceiling level, watching as doctors and nurses
scrambled to revive him.
watching alone. At his right side stood the Lord Jesus Christ, "with
his left arm wrapped around me," Darrell told Dr. Sabom, describing
the reddish-brown hair that hung shoulder length on the great spirit
thought: he had to survive for his little girl and wife.
Can we say that
this is simply an overly active imagination? Religious conditioning?
A brain skewed due to oxygen deprivation?
None of that
seems to fit. The experience was too far above the ordinary. There
were four more cardiac arrests that day, recounts Dr. Sabom, and
only during the third did Jesus speak.
when Darrell asked the Lord what He wanted him to do and Jesus allegedly
responded, "Go" -- causing Darrell to return again into
p.m., friends who had accompanied his wife had to go home, leaving
his wife alone in her vigil. Although she too had stopped going
to church years before, she prayed, implored the Lord to save Darrell's
life, and silently confessed her sins. "That's when I started
asking for healing for Darrell," she recounted, "and that's
when I opened my eyes."
What she saw
may have terrified some people, but for Alison, there was a wave
of joy. A light was surrounding her husband's head, shoulders, and
especially his heart -- a gorgeous melding of white with gold that
flowed like waves inside a "lava lamp." One beam hovered
like a pillar over his chest, she recounted to the cardiologist,
who believes near-death experiences unquestionably grant a glimpse
of the hereafter.
'Lord, I'm going to open my eyes again,'" Alison recalled.
"Put Your Hand on his heart, and put Your other Hand on our
hands and show me that this is real.'
when I opened my eyes, there was this person on Darrell's left side."
What she saw
was the right Hand of Jesus on Darrell's heart and His left Hand
clasping her and her husband's hands. He wore a white robe with
a blue sash, according to Alison, who also described His hair as
long and brown. He was made of light, she said -- yet somehow was
my eyes and started giving thanks again," said Alison. "Darrell
woke up a little later and I said, 'Did you know that Jesus was
here?' He said, 'Yeah.' And I said, 'Where was He?' and he patted
the bed right there where Jesus was!"
experience -- and several more cardiac arrests -- Darrell, who had
struggled with both alcohol and drugs before his near-death episode,
became an avid believer. Previous to his experience he never discussed
religion; now, that was almost all he did. The nurses would hear
him singing "How Great Thou Art" -- and once he recovered,
he took to visiting bars and motorcycle meetings, attempting to
convert those who he encountered.
His own motorcycle
leather vest bore religious patches that said things like "Riding
for the Son," "Christian Motorcycles Association,"
"100 percent for Jesus."
And oh, yes:
In the hospital, Darrell had drawn a picture of his near-death encounter
with Christ, the one in which he and Jesus were watching the doctors
from the spot above the bed. He had tacked his rendition of the
experience (done with a crayon) to the wall near the foot of his
dawn on me until nine months later, after I revisited the room,
that the drawing put Darrell and Jesus above the doorway,"
noted Dr. Sabom. "There, as in each patient's room, hangs
a gold-colored crucifix."