A file photo of doctors in an operating room. (H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Stephanie Arnold flat-lined for 37 seconds when she went into cardiac arrest due to complications while giving birth to her son, Jacob. Jacob was healthy and she was revived, but traumatized. She went to therapy, including regression therapy under hypnosis, to recall what happened while she was in the operating room.

She saw clearly, like watching a movie, what happened as doctors revived her. The details of what she recalled were confirmed by those present in the operating room.

Stephanie Arnold flat-lined for 37 seconds while giving birth to her son.

Stephanie Arnold holding her son, Jacob. (Courtesy of Stephanie Arnold)
Stephanie Arnold holding her son, Jacob. (Courtesy of Stephanie Arnold)

“She described the positioning of the providers,” said Dr. Nicole Higgins, a physician who worked on Arnold at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “For example, where I was standing, who was doing chest compressions. She also had described there was a malfunction of our defibrillator machine, which necessitated that we had to take that one out and bring a new one in. She described that accurately.”

In a video for Arnold’s book, “37 Seconds: Dying Revealed Heaven’s Help,” her obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Julie Levitt, said: “There was no way she would have been able to know that was going on had she not been in a different state.”

Arnold recalled details of what happened in the operating room while she was dead, but also information of a stranger sort.

Screenshot of Dr. Julie Levitt, from the video promotion of Stephanie Arnold’s book “37 Seconds.”
Screenshot of Dr. Elena Kamel, from the video promotion of Stephanie Arnold’s book “37 Seconds.”

Not only did Arnold recall what had happened in the operating room, she also remembered getting messages from others, perhaps spirits. For example, she saw a little boy who looked like a good friend of hers. The boy said: “Tell my sister that I miss the way she twirled my hair.”

Arnold told this friend of hers, Rosalind, that she may have seen her dead brother. Arnold didn’t know what the brother looked like, so she couldn’t be sure, but when she told Rosalind what this boy had said, “she dropped the phone and started bawling,” Arnold recalled. “How did you know that?” Rosalind asked. “I used to twirl his hair every night to put him to sleep.”

Arnold told Dr. Levitt that she heard her saying over and over again, “This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.” Dr. Levitt told her, “I did [say that]—but it was in my head.”

Arnold had premonitions weeks before; she was certain she would die giving birth.

(Courtesy of Stephanie Arnold)
(Courtesy of Stephanie Arnold)

Furthermore, Arnold had strong premonitions in the weeks leading up to her death that she was going to die. She was certain of it. The doctors chalked it up to pregnancy jitters, but one of them did take some extra precautions just in case. Those precautions saved Arnold’s life.

She suffered a rare amniotic fluid embolism, a condition in which amniotic cells get into the bloodstream and cause an allergic reaction. It happens to about 1 in 40,000 women. Arnold said, “It is completely unpredictable, unpreventable, and most of the time fatal.” Except, she predicted it.

Arnold and her husband — a data-driven economist who was especially reluctant to believe anything other-worldly about her experience — sought explanations for her experience. Without finding adequate explanations within mainstream science, they have concluded that out-of-body experiences are real. The mind exists apart from the brain.

Arnold has spoken at several medical conferences and medical schools, such as the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. Physicians there told her they know and respect the doctors who worked on her and think her case really could show there’s something more than what’s currently understood in medical science.

“This experience has left me with a sense of, well maybe there’s something else,” said Dr. Nicole Higgins.

Many doctors have used intuition to some extent in treating patients, or have had patients with a sense of foreboding. Arnold tells them not to dismiss foreboding or premonitions, and to understand that patients who are unconscious may still be aware of what’s going on around them on some level.

Dr. Higgins said: “As a physician, we’re scientific, we’re taught to review the evidence and go from there, and if it’s not easily provable, it makes us skeptical. But this experience has left me with a sense of, well maybe there’s something else. Maybe it’s not all just purely based in science, maybe something else has a hand in what we do every day.”

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Top photo credit: A file photo of doctors in an operating room. (H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images)