Woman in vegetative state regains full consciousness after 28 years
A Middle Eastern woman left in a coma after a car crash has beaten the odds and regained full consciousness after 28 years.
Munira Abdulla had set out in 1991 to collect her four-year-old son from school in the United Arab Emirates, when a school bus rammed into her car.
She suffered a severe brain injury, and at the age of 32, there were no signs she would ever recover. However, almost 28 years later in 2018, her son was blown away when she called his name from her hospital bed.
Describing the crash, her son Omar Webair - who is now 32 - told The National that his mother had shielded him from the collision, something that allowed him to walk away with only a bruise on his head.
"My mother was sitting with me in the back seat. When she saw the crash coming she hugged me to protect me from the blow," he said, adding that no one in the area had a mobile phone so his mother wasn't taken to hospital for hours.
When Ms Abdulla was eventually taken to receive medical care, it was recommended she be transferred to a facility in London. There, she was declared to be in a vegetative state; this meaning she was completely unresponsive but able to sense pain.
When she was returned to Al Ain, a city in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, she was put in hospital, where she would remain for years. To keep her alive, she was fed through a tube and underwent physiotherapy to ensure her muscles did not deteriorate from a lack of movement.
During her time in hospital, her son would sit with her for hours; while she couldn't speak, he claims he could tell from her expressions if she was in pain.
The situation was made worse as Ms Abdulla was forced to move from place to place, as a consequence of insurance requirements. But this all changed in April 2017 when the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, offered to pay for her treatment.
Transferred to a German hospital, she was given physiotherapy and drugs to improve her wakefulness and sleeping patterns.
During her last week of treatment in Germany in 2018, a situation became heated in her hospital room and Ms Abdulla, seemingly prompted by the raised voices, incredibly began to stir. Moments later, Mr Webair was astonished to hear his mother calling his name."
"She was making strange sounds and I kept calling the doctors to examine her, they said everything was normal," Mr Webair told The National. "Then three days later I woke up to the sound of someone calling my name. It was her! She was calling my name, I was flying with joy; for years I have dreamt of this moment, and my name was the first word she said."
Although her son had previously been told he was running "wild with imagination" when he told doctors that he hoped she may speak again, Ms Abdulla has beaten the odds, and can now recite prayers from the Qu'ran, tell people when she's in pain, and even have conversations "if she is interested in the topic".
Mr Webair told The National he wished to share her story to give hope to other family members in his situation.
"The reason I shared her story is to tell people not to lose hope on their loved ones; don’t consider them dead when they are in such a state," he said. "All those years the doctors told me she was a hopeless case, and that there was no point of the treatment I was seeking for her, but whenever in doubt I put myself in her place and did whatever I could to improve her condition."