A Campbell River man has received $63,000 in damages for an "out-of-body experience" in which he said he saw God after being accidentally overdosed with the painkiller Ketamine while recovering from back surgery in Vancouver General Hospital.
By The Vancouver Sun April 12, 2007
VANCOUVER - A Campbell River man has received $63,000 in damages for an "out-of-body experience" in which he said he saw God after being accidentally overdosed with the painkiller Ketamine while recovering from back surgery in Vancouver General Hospital.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frank Cole made the award to former social worker Bradley Weafer, 38, but rejected Weafer's claim that he had suffered significant brain damage as a result of the overdose, which occurred Aug. 11, 2001.
Cole found that Weafer suffered psychological trauma from the overdose, in which he received the entire contents of a 500-milligram bag of Ketamine -- being administered intravenously -- over a five-minute period. He was supposed to have received three millilitres an hour for 24 hours.
The overdose caused him to lose consciousness and he needed to be resuscitated. He later told his parents he'd had a terrifying out-of-body experience, which medical evidence indicated was one of the side-effects of a Ketamine overdose.
He initially claimed to have suffered a heart attack as a result of the overdose, but this claim wasn't pursued at trial.
Cole found that Weafer had experienced poor health before the Ketamine incident.
The judge rejected claims that chest pains Weafer says he suffered were from CPR being performed on him and that the pain "insofar as it exists" was not caused by the incident.
Witnesses said Weafer was talking like a child when they visited him in hospital and he said he has experienced speech problems since the overdose. However, Cole dismissed that claim and said if Weafer has any speech problems, "they do not appear to impair his life."
Weafer told the court that before the overdose, he remembered being hooked up to medication and falling asleep.
"He said his life changed," Cole wrote in his reasons for judgment.
"He said: 'I was sucked down into black tunnels where I've never been before. People pulling me around by my feet, all black, was hot, scary, saw life flash in front of me. I saw my mother, felt being born and placed in my mother's arms, life review of all the good and bad . . . then I shot up through the sky surrounded like a shower of white light, went straight through the clouds and saw this figure to the right and he had a white cap on, look at his face and he wouldn't let me see his face. It was a bright white light. He was an office-tower high, larger than any building I'd ever seen.'"
Weafer then described seeing a gathering of people waiting for him on the other side of a trellis -- further journeys down into blackness and back into light --until he woke up and found doctors asking him questions.
He told them, "I just saw God and was fighting for my life."
In dismissing Weafer's claims of brain damage, Cole nevertheless said the man "suffered a great degree of stress and anxiety due to the Ketamine incident. The near-death experience was terrifying."
He awarded Weafer $55,000 in damages, $5,000 for the expenses of his parents looking after him and $3,000 in special damages.
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