"My birthday last year was pretty weird," said 17-year-old Zack Clements. "I actually died. I was dead as you can possibly be."
For 20 minutes on Tuesday, May 5th, Zack Clements was clinically dead with no pulse, no respiration, and no brainwave activity.
“Zack met all the technical requirements for being pronounced legally dead,” said Dr. Kevin Daigle. "He's very lucky to be with us now. Most people in his situation would be in the graveyard."
But miraculously, he is alive and well today with no apparent lasting effects from his harrowing ordeal.
And that’s not even the most amazing part of his story!
When Zack regained consciousness three days later at Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, he told his parents an incredible story.
He said that he’d seen a man with a thick beard, piercing blue eyes and long, ruffled hair, surrounded by angels — while he was dead!
“I realized it was Jesus,” Zack said. "And this is going to sound dumb, but, Jesus is a good-looking dude."
"It was so beautiful and peaceful in Heaven," the high schooler said from his hospital bed. "I didn't feel any pain and I knew that I was home. It was more real than being here, actually."
But that's not all Zack had to say about Jesus, the world beyond, and what it's actually like to die...
Football endurance training had just started after school when, without warning, Zack collapsed on the football field next to several of his teammates.
For 20 minutes, his classmates, his coach, and a paramedic crew attempted to revive him.
“The situation was one of the gravest I’d seen,” said Gary Bay, principal of the Victory Life Academy and a former ambulance driver himself.
“If everyone hadn’t worked on him as quickly and efficiently as they did, I’m not sure he would have made it,” he added.
Doctors told Zack’s parents that the prognosis was grim.
“For 20 minutes, he was legally dead,” said Dr. Lisa Roten, a cardiologist who helped care for Zack. “We were worried he may have suffered irreversible brain damage."
Once his heart resumed beating without assistance, doctors put Zack into a medically induced coma and lowered his body temperature.
"This is to help the brain recover from trauma," said Dr. Roten.
The medical team was astonished when Zack awoke several days later, fully aware of his surroundings, and with an amazing story to tell...
“Jesus put his hand on my shoulder and told me that everything was going to be alright,” Zack said. “It made me feel like someone was watching over me and I was going to get through it. Since it happened, I feel like I’m a stronger person.”
Zack's parents were so dumbfounded by his revelation that Teresa videotaped her son recalling what he saw.
“He said that there was a line of angels and in the middle was the prettiest one of all — Jesus,” said Teresa.
The family has been inundated with calls and comments — some good and some bad — since Zack went public with his story.
“We’ve had people say he’s lying, or that we gave him a pill before school that day so it would look like he’d gone into cardiac arrest,” said Zack's father, Billy Clements.
“People can argue science and logic, but they can’t argue somebody’s personal experience,” he added. “They can’t take that away from Zack.”
But this was just the beginning of Zack's experience.
He brought back a message from beyond the veil, and it might just surprise you...
"We're just supposed to love and accept one another," said Zack. "All of our arguments about religion and politics don't matter. None of that matters. We're just supposed to love each other."
Billy Clements said that though some might find his son's story unbelievable, he and his family see a divine miracle as the only explanation for Zack's revival.
Doctors have yet to explain how or why Zack collapsed in the first place!
"For him to wake up and tell us something he experienced like that. It's just you can't explain it. It's not humanly possible to explain it," Billy Cements said. "It's amazing, really."
Zack's mother, Teresa Clements, has also accepted that Jesus helped bring her son back to life.
"I'm just glad he decided to let me have my baby back," she said. "And his message that we should stop arguing about religion and politics, well, I think that's a great idea."
Zack is only one of an estimated 200 million people worldwide that have claimed to have had a near-death experience.
And remarkably, most reports are strikingly similar...
Skeptics argue, often fiercely, that NDEs result from nothing more than brain activity, or are just the psychological constructs of a dying brain. Yet, people who have NDEs unanimously contest their experiences are real.
And these people are not "crazed" in any traditional sense of the word. They are regular people, who just happen to have had an extraordinary experience. NDEs are reported by men, women, and children, regardless of age, nationality, ethnicity, religion, occupation, or education level.
They are not new phenomena. NDEs are evident across cultures and throughout history, with some of the earliest known accounts being recorded by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
In fact, NDEs are quite common. They occur daily, under a wide variety of circumstances, in virtually every country around the world...
Around 20% of cardiac arrest survivors and 4-9% of the general population are estimated to have had an NDE. But, they are believed to be under-reported, so the actual number of people who have one is probably much higher.
Those reporting NDEs often describe a profound psychological event that is mystical, transcendental, or even spiritual in nature; where the normal boundaries between space and time are blurred.
One of the most intriguing examples of this is the apparent existence of disembodied consciousness. That is, many have described perceiving events as if they were positioned from outside of their own bodies.
Some of the most popular accounts include the witnessing of resuscitation efforts by medical professionals, perceiving others in distant locales, and viewing objects in unusual places.
"And these details are frequently verified by relatives, doctors, and other hospital staff," said Kenneth Ring, an author and NDE researcher. "These patients have no way of knowing the things they know, but somehow, they do."
And several recent, large-scale studies have provided credible findings to suggest that NDEs may actually be real phenomena.
So what's next for Zack?