RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, who practices in Virginia, is saying something that's challenging the scientific world. Dr. Eben Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis and went into a deep coma - he claims he went to Heaven and says he can prove it.
A piercing headache and a stiff neck sent Alexander into a deep coma on November 10, 2008.
Alexander was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where a brain scan revealed he'd contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis - his chances for a full recovery were very low.
"I was down to about a two or three percent chance of survival - and no chance of a full neurological recovery," said Alexander.
For what seemed like an eternity, there was a vast blackness...
"But then, I was rescued by this spinning light..!"
That light evolved into a whole new world, that he now believes was Heaven.
"I was a piece of awareness on this butterfly wing - a gorgeous butterfly, and we were with millions of other butterflies - and they were in this huge river of living color - colors more vivid than the rainbow," said Alexander.
Guiding the doctor along on his journey was a very beautiful woman, who he described in meticulous detail.
"Very bright, blue eyes and high cheek bones…she had light brown hair that framed her face…and this wide smile.."
He remembered all of her features, and telepathically, she shared a message.
"She never said a word to me, but her thoughts - concepts - would come straight into my mind….you're loved - you're cherished, there's nothing you can do wrong... and you have nothing to fear.."
So was Dr. Alexander hallucinating? He says he went back and examined all of his brain scans during his coma, and there was hardly any brain activity. The doctors told his wife he'd likely be a vegetable for the rest of his life. The science doesn't match his experience.
"I was in a deep coma, not just with my entire neo-cortex wiped out by the meningitis, but my brain stem - for instance my eye movements, things like that - were very damaged by the meningitis."
In the months after his recovery, Alexander reconnected with his birth parents - he had been adopted. He also learned of a biological sister, who had died years earlier.
He found a picture, and much to his surprise, recognized her immediately - it was his guide through Heaven.
"I felt like I'd hit a stonewall at 100 miles an hour, I couldn't have been more shocked - she was the one who was on the butterfly wing!"
There have been times in Alexander's life when he considered himself a man of faith and times when he did not, but no longer.
"And what I can tell you is, everything I saw in coma completely restored that faith in a way that I will never, ever, lose it again."
Dr. Alexander has written a book about his journey called "Proof of Heaven," and it's available in bookstores, now.