Dr. Sam Parnia, the British surgeon who attained worldwide fame for his work on near-death experiences (NDEs), still stands by his controversial declaration that death does not annihilate the soul.

“The evidence thus far suggests that in the first few minutes after death, consciousness is not annihilated,” he said in 2008 following the revelation of the results of the landmark AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study that examined a broad range of mental experiences in relation to death.

The results of AWARE revealed that 40 percent of those that survived a cardiac arrest were aware during the time they were clinically dead and before their hearts were restarted.

But more controversially, Dr. Parnia believes that “contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning.”

“If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death,’” he added.

He has mostly studied those with no heart beat and no detectable brain activity for periods of time and believes cardiac arrest is the optimal model to help understand the human experience of death.

And somewhere in here is an implicit belief in the existence of a soul or consciousness to many scientists like Dr. Parnia because conscioueness is not immediately annihilated.

As he told renowned celebrity Morgan Freeman in the widely acclaimed documentary “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman,” which first aired on the National Geographic Channel in April 2016, there is evidence when a person dies and it’s “that part that makes us who we are -- the soul or mind, or whatever you call it -- it does not become annihilated.”

“They may describe a sensation of actually meeting deceased relatives, friends, or others that they don’t really know. So I think what we are beginning to understand is that we have very much a universal experience of death,” Dr. Parnia, who is director of the Human Consciousness Project at the University of Southampton, said.

He noted there is a large percentage of patients who technically died and came back to life and reported bizarre experiences when they died.

Dr. Parnia said scientists know that for thousands of years, people who have come close to death for any reason have had these very profound, deep and in some ways mystical experiences. He noted that people feell an immense sense of peace, comfort and joy when they go through death.

He said it’s important to understand that when a person is dying and is turning into a cadaver, it’s only at that point the cells inside his body start to undergo a process of death, which can take hours, if not days to complete.

This stunning revelation means doctors “have this window of time where we can bring people back to life and the experiences that they have given us is an indication of what it is like to go through death.”

But for those who have experienced an NDE, there is no doubt that souls do exist.