As I make my way through the individual nderf.org cases (chronologically), certain accounts jump out from the background. Valerie’s NDE is one such case. It is actually a fairly “ordinary” (if not stereotypical) NDE, filled with the usual iconic NDE imagery: The experiencer abruptly begins her account by describing a man dressed in a ragged and torn robe. (It is strongly implied that the robed figure is Jesus—though, as in many of these accounts, he is not specifically identified as such.) She floats upward, following him. He assures her that the “prayers of the righteous are answered.” She is almost blinded by a light issuing from a doorway, which she was blocked from passing through. She undergoes a mini-life review, which she calls a “judgement,” and is sent back to her body.
This NDE would not be remarkable except for the fact that Valerie had apparently been put in an induced near-death state (heart stopped, blood removed) to repair a brain artery aneurysm, apparently the same procedure that Pam Reynolds underwent. The surgery lasted seven hours. Pam Reynolds, by contrast, became conscious out-of-body shortly after her heart was stopped. She is aware that “she” has left her body, is able to see it, and is able to observe and remember the operating theater in clinical detail. She described the surgical instruments used, the ambient sounds that she “heard,” not to mention the non-physical people that she communicated with. Pam Reynolds was oriented in both time and place despite being out-of-body and was able to “remember” the details when she returned to physical consciousness. (To dismiss her experience as a hallucination is a bit of a stretch, particularly when contrasted with Valerie’s.)
Personally, I think that the contrast between the two experiences is evidence of an important factor that we usually forget when interpreting NDEs: NDE differences suggest that what we see out-of-body, and how we interpret what we can see, depends on not only the nature and development of the individual consciousness, but also on how much consciousness we bring with us when out-of-body. Valerie experienced what her consciousness was able to experience, and she interpreted her experience with the tools that she had available to her.