Dr. Mary Neal - To Heaven And Back and Near-Death Experience

Dr. Mary Neal is a board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon who drowned while kayaking on a South American river. She experienced life after death. She went to heaven and back, conversed with Jesus and experienced God’s encompassing love. She was returned to Earth with some specific instructions for work she still needed to do. Her life has been one filled with the miracles and intervention of God. Her story gives reason to live by faith and is a story of hope.

Dr. Neal was born and raised in Michigan and graduated from the University of Kentucky before attending the UCLA medical school. She completed her orthopaedic surgery training at the University of Southern California after which she lived in Sweden, Switzerland, and Los Angeles while undergoing 1 1/2 years of specialty training in spinal surgery before becoming the director of spine surgery at USC. Five years later, she left the University for private practice.

Notable Quotes

“What I find… remarkable… is how readily many people in our society believe outlandish and unsubstantiated urban myths and conspiracies… yet disregard thousands of personal and consistent testimonies of miracles and near-death experiences from people throughout all cultures and religions.”

NDEr Dr. Mary Neal, from her book To Heaven And Back

“I had been very rigorous over the years with regard to restricting the amount of time I allowed myself to think about the events surrounding my own death and return to life. I love my life, I love my family dearly, and I know that my work on earth is not done. Despite that, recalling the alluring magnificence of God’s world too vividly would make it easy to be consumed by a deep longing to return. I have always guarded my heart by not thinking about it too vividly or for too long… I always found it emotionally draining and dangerous to spend too much time remembering not just the facts and events, but re-experiencing the actual emotions.”

NDEr Dr. Mary Neal, from her book To Heaven And Back

With her capsized kayak pinning her under the surging water, Neal was believed to have not been breathing for anything between 15 and 25 minutes, according to the kayaking guides with her on the trip. During the time of what she terms her “drowning,” she claims to have had a heavenly experience in which she returned to God and was in the presence of Jesus and angels.

It was a life-changing event for a person who was not fervently religious. The incident also prompted Neal to write her best-selling book, “To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels and Life Again,” which spent several weeks atop The New York Times’ “Paperback Advice & Misc.” best-seller list.

“I would never claim to have been particularly religious beforehand,’’ Neal told Matt Lauer during an in-studio appearance on TODAY Thursday. “I certainly believed in God. I think I was very typical. I sort of hoped there was something more and there was a reason that we were here, but I was very busy. I didn’t put spirituality in the forefront of my life.’’

A spinal surgeon from Wyoming, Neal suffered two broken legs and lung problems as a result of the incident, spending a month in the hospital and missing six months of work while in a wheelchair. As a doctor, she is used to having a biological explanation for near-death phenomena like bright lights and warm feelings, but believes this was a different situation.


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"Unless a life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile." Mother Teresa

Matthew 25:46 - And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

God feels the pain we feel and inflict on others. (Sandra Rogers - NDE)

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