From studies done in hospitals, only about 10% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest, remember anything from that time - so Alan's lack of experience was quite typical.
However, to me 10% of people having this experience is far more important than the 90% who don't. The 10% tell us that us that the structure of consciousness is such that it doesn't depend on the body, and of course a fair proportion of that 10% report contact wit their dead relations.
The reason 90% of people report nothing, could be various. The exact physiology of what goes on after a cardiac arrest may vary somewhat, I imagine. Also people vary a lot in many ways, and it may be that the brains of the 90% retain a residual hold on to their minds that little bit longer than the others.
Another possibility is that they have an NDE, but then fail to remember it. Interestingly enough, I have read that some people who are anaesthetised have a period of 'delirium' as they wake up, that they then forget. I have only been anaesthetised twice, but on the second occasion, the nurse who was supervising me, indicated that I had been a wake for a short while before I was coherent - I simply remembered waking and realising I was 'back'.
Because the materialist viewpoint has such a grip, nobody seems much interested in studying exactly what the delirious patients were saying.
I think that defining what consciousness is and why that it should exist beyond the brain an interesting question. Regardless, no matter what we think about the subject, we are utilizing consciousness, so there is really no way around that. Maybe we are asking ourselves, "What is the seat of consciousness?"
Let us say that consciousness is something like "grasping" is for the hand. We know that a hand can grasp, but it can also do other things such as point and so forth. Also, the hand can pretty much just be there as a hand. Now, if we cut off the hand, there obviously is not a capacity to "grasp" any longer. Nevertheless, this doesn't erase the grasping that has taken place over time, and those objects moved as such. However, the hand is gone, so it would be foolish to think that a person will continue grasping without that hand.
In this respect, consciousness is only one aspect of the brain, such as grasping is one aspect of the hand, and not fundamental or necessary at all for the function of life. Granted, if you cannot grasp anything with your hands, then your life will expire unless you are being spoon fed from another's hand.
This leads us to another line of inquiry: is consciousness the result of our sensory input or is it something else altogether? A few years ago, I became incredibly sick with the flu, thus causing the hearing in my right ear to become incredibly distorted. The distortion is so bad that I must plug my ear before I go into public or I am, in affect, worse than deaf. In this respect, if you cut off every sense, how is it that you would continue to be conscious? Conscious of what?
Here, I am not playing devil's advocate. These are questions that must be asked. Is there a consciousness without being conscious of something? Perhaps consciousness is not the sum of sensory input detecting things, but rather, an emotive vibration.