From an evidence-based, Rational-Spiritual perspective the most important aspect of George Rodonaia's near-death experience was his diagnosis of a fracture in a newborn baby's body. Traditionally the most often-repeated account of this has been taken from Melvin Morse and Paul Perry's Transformed by the Light (1993, BCA), chapter 4, pp. 95-7. This version suggests that the baby was a boy with a greenstick or partial fracture of the arm, that he was the child of a neighbour, and that the encounter took place in the neighbour's home.

However George himself tells a slightly different story in the documentary 'Life After Life', directed by Peter Shockey and presented by Dr Raymond Moody - whose highly-acclaimed 1975 book of the same name triggered the modern interest in NDEs. During one section, reproduced here in its entirety, George talks about a friend's newborn baby girl, who was still in hospital and had a broken hip [starts at 20.45]:

I could communicate with the children, with very little children who couldn't speak and walk who were very little, and had just come from that place where I was going [ie the light]. And this was an amazing spiritual communication, we didn't speak in words but with mental communication. And she [this particular one] had a broken hip, and nobody understood why she was crying so loud. And the doctors and her parents were very concerned about this, and I said, "Don't cry, anyway nobody will understand why you are crying." And she stopped crying and she smiled. And it was an incredible experience for the people around her, who looked at her and said, "What's happened, why is she no longer crying?" And I wanted to tell them, "She has this and this, this happened to her," but I could not communicate with them. After the third day that I had been back in my body and I could speak again I said to them, "You know your daughter is crying because of this, she has a broken hip, and this is the diagnosis you are seeking." And they found that it was the truth, they were shocked and surprised.

This is also the version included in Phyllis Atwater's book Beyond the Light (Thorsons, 1975, chapter 5, p. 81), which apparently came from direct discussion with George himself:

He returned to the morgue and was drawn to the newborn section of the adjacent hospital where a friend's wife had just given birth to a daughter. The baby cried incessantly. As if possessed of x-ray vision, Rodonaia scanned her body and noted that her hip had been broken in birth... After the attending physicians in the autopsy unit had quit screaming at the shock of seeing a dead body come back to life, they rushed Rodonaia to emergency surgery. All his ribs were broken, his muscles destroyed, his feet a horrible mess. It took three days before he could finally move his tongue around enough to speak. His first words warned the doctors about the child with the broken hip. X-rays of the newborn were taken, and he proved right! Rodonaia remained hospitalised for nine months, during which time he became something of a celebrity.

In the first editions of both The Book of the Soul and The Little Book of the Soul I relied on the narrative provided by Morse and Perry, but in the second editions of both books I have amended the account to conform to the Rodonaia/Atwater version.

Ian Lawton, 18 December 2007

[I would like to thank Kevin Williams for pointing me towards the Shockey/Moody documentary, and the Rev Juliet Nightingale for supplying it, as well as for checking the details with Phyllis Atwater.]