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Woman Reflects Warmly on 24 Minutes of Death

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A 39-year-old Virginia woman who was brought back to life after her heart stopped for 24 minutes is now reflecting warmly on the experience, even though she has no memory of the time. Lauren Canaday suffered a grand mal seizure and subsequent cardiac arrest in her home 8 months ago. Her husband performed CPR until paramedics arrived and shocked her heart back into rhythm.

She said while her heart was stopped, she didn’t have any visions but walked away from the experience with a deep feeling of tranquility.

“I have this gut feeling that it was friendly and peaceful, even though I can’t report any shapes or personas or visions of that time,” Canaday said. “I feel like I dissolved, and it was just really nice.”

Doctors believe a COVID-19 infection may have caused myocarditis leading to the cardiac arrest. Though Canaday doesn’t remember shapes or visions during her clinical death, she says she has a peaceful “gut feeling” about that time. After 9 days in the hospital, she returned home with some short-term memory issues but no permanent brain damage.

Canaday says the experience gave her a mental reset and a new appreciation for life’s simple joys. “I remember a lot of very serene moments in and after the hospital, like none of the worries I used to have mattered, and I got insanely excited about things like cheeseburgers. Things just felt very simple,” she said.

Cases like Canaday’s are extremely rare – according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, only about 10% of people whose hearts stop outside a hospital setting survive. Her recovery is particularly remarkable given the length of time her heart was not beating. Doctors said that her husband’s quick CPR likely saved her life by providing just enough oxygen to prevent brain damage. His actions, along with the swift response by emergency crews to defibrillate her heart, enabled Canaday’s second chance at life – one which she does not take for granted. With a newfound sense of purpose, she is determined to make the most out of this opportunity she knows few get.

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