An Emirati woman, who was left in a comatose state for nearly three decades while trying to save her son during an accident, has made a miraculous recovery, baffling doctors, who for years, described her condition as a “hopeless case.”
The woman's son has shared their ordeal, hoping to inspire others "not to lose hope on their loved ones."
27 years ago, Munira Abdulla had gone to pick up her four-year-old son Omar from school but their vehicle collided with a school bus on way to their home in Al Ain, leaving the 32-year-old with a traumatic brain injury. Munira Abdulla was left in a coma and doctors believed she would probably never open her eyes again — until last year, when she woke in a German hospital room.
Her family has revealed their ordeal for the first time while speaking to The National, describing a “modern day miracle, and how she has woken into a quite different world.”
“I never gave up on her because I always had a feeling that one day she will wake up,” Munira Abdulla’s son Omar Webair told the newspaper.
Soon after the accident, a hospital in the United Arab Emirates recommended that Munira Abdulla be transferred to a facility in London.
Doctors there diagnosed a minimally conscious state and she was brought back to Al Ain, and placed in a hospital for a few years. Fed through a tube, Munira underwent physiotherapy to ensure her muscles did not deteriorate from a lack of movement.
Omar’s daily routine would include walking about four kilometres every day to see his mother.
“To me she was like gold, the more time passed by the more valuable she became," he said. "I never regretted it. I believe that, because of my support for her, God saved me from bigger troubles.” Munira Abdulla spent years in hospitals in the UAE, moving from place to place as a result of insurance requirements. In April 2017, the Crown Prince Court heard of her condition and offered the family a grant for a comprehensive multidisciplinary programme in Germany.
In Germany, Munira Abdulla underwent a number of surgeries to combat her severely shortened arm and leg muscles. Doctors at Schön Klinik Bad Aibling, a hospital about 50km south-east of Munich, prioritised physical therapies and gave her medication to improve her wakefulness, sleep rhythm and drive. The therapy seemed to improve her state and she appeared to begin to consciously perceive her children as well as the doctor. “I told the doctors I was expecting her to start talking again, they told me: ‘you are running wild with your imagination, we are only doing rehabilitation to fix her quality of life’,” said Omar.
Around a year later, in June 2018, during her last week of treatment in Germany, the unexpected occurred. “There was a misunderstanding in the hospital room and she sensed I was at risk which caused her a shock,” Omar said. Her son had been involved in an argument in her hospital room and his mother, seemingly prompted by the raised voices, began to stir. “She was making strange sounds and I kept calling the doctors to examine her, they said everything was normal,” Omar said.
“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.” She then started calling the names of her siblings, “and everybody who she expected to be around her; when she was screaming it was like she was reliving the accident and then woke up.”
After that Munira Abdulla became more aware and responsive. “Now she can tell us where she is feeling pain, and I can have conversations with her if she is interested in the topic,” Omar said. “She sometimes wakes me up to recite prayers with her, she would give me the topic and once I start with the prayer she continues the lines herself.” Munira Abdulla is back in Abu Dhabi with her family and continues to receive physiotherapy and rehabilitation in the hospital. Her son occasionally takes her out to the Grand Mosque in a wheelchair.
A medical report issued from Mafraq Hospital last month says that she is "currently able to communicate with self and surrounding in a very reasonable manner especially in familiar situations.” “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,” said Omar Webair. “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.”
When visited in hospital, Munira Abdulla was able to answer questions, although with some difficulty, and recited verses of the Quran, according to The National. She also recently visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.