Curt Jergens’ Vision of Hell During Heart Surgery
Curt Jurgens, a German actor and idol, had a negative experience when his heart stopped during much of the four hours it took Dr. Michael Debakey in Houston to replace part of an aorta (the main blood vessel):
Soon I had a feeling that life was ebbing from me. I felt powerful sensations of dread. I had been looking up into the big glass cupola over the operating room. This cupola now began to change. Suddenly it turned glowing red. I saw twisted faces grimacing as they stared down at me.
I tried to struggle upright and defend myself against these ghosts, who were moving closer to me. Then it seemed as if the glass cupola had turned into a transparent dome that was slowly sinking down over me. A fiery rain was now falling, but though the drops were enormous, none of them touched me. They spattered down around me, and out of them grew menacing tongues of flames licking up about me.
I could no longer shut out the frightful truth: beyond the faces dominating this fiery world were faces of the damned. I had a feeling of despair … the sensation of horror was so great it choked me.
Obviously I was in Hell itself, and the glowing tongues of fire could be reaching me any minute. In this situation, the black silhouette of a human figure suddenly materialized and began to draw near. It was a woman in a black veil, a slender woman with a lipless mouth and in her eyes an expression that sent icy shudders down my back.
She stretched out her arms toward me and, pulled by an irresistible force, I followed her. An icy breath touched me and I came into a world filled with faint sounds of lamentation, though there was not a person in sight. Then and there I asked the figure to tell me who she was. A voice answered: “I am death."
I summoned all my strength and thought: “I’ll not follow her any more, for I want to live.”
(To Hell and Back by Dr Maurice Rawlings, pg. 76-77)