As recently featured on Fox News, Near Death Experiences have clearly entered the mainstream and reached the public awareness. One of the most fascinating examples of an NDE is that of New York resident Dr. Tony Cicoria. Cicoria is a practicing orthopedic surgeon, and is Chief of the Medical Staff and Chief of Orthopedics at Chenango Hospital, Norwich, NY. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedics at SUNY Syracuse, Upstate Medical University. In 1994, when Tony Cicoria was 42 years old, he was struck by lightning near Albany while using a public telephone. He was about a foot away when a rogue bolt of lightning struck. He recalled seeing his own body on the ground surrounded by a bluish-white light. Cicoria’s heart had apparently stopped, but he was revived by a woman, (coincidentally a nurse) who was waiting to use the telephone.
While he was “dead,” Cicoria floated above his body, seeing himself down below, surrounded by his family and the nurse. He was aware of moving away from them and toward a bright light. He said he felt so happy and welcome in the light, and was aware of following it up some stairs as it got brighter and brighter. Cicoria thought to himself, “I’m so happy here, I want to stay,” just as he felt himself pulled away and returned to consciousness.
Several weeks after the accident Cicoria consulted a neurologistas he was having difficulties with his memory and was feeling sluggish. The exams found nothing unusual. After a few weeks his energy returned and he went back to work. Two weeks later, his memory problems disappeared. His life had apparently returned to normal.
Then Cicoria, over a period of two or three days, became struck with an insatiable desire to listen to piano music. He acquired a piano and started to teach himself to play. His head was flooded with music that seemed to come from nowhere. Although, previous to his accident, he had no particular interest in music, within three months of being struck by lightning Cicoria spent nearly all his time playing and composing. In 2007 Cicoria began performing publicly at recitals, and his amazing story was later featured in Oliver Sacks’s book Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain.
Cicoria has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic, The Washington Post, and The Mirror. He has also appeared on several television presentations including: CBS News, BBC One’s documentary Imagine , Canada’s The Hour, and the NOVA episode Musical Minds.