An Emirati woman has regained consciousness 28 years after she went into a vegetative state.
Munira Abdullah suffered a severe brain injury in a car crash in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 1991 – She was 32 at the time.
Apart from responding to pains, there were no other tangible signs she would wake up.
However, in 2017, 26 years after, she started showing signs of responsiveness when she was transferred to Germany and started getting treated with physical therapies and drugs.
“I never gave up on her because I always had a feeling that one day she will wake up,” her son Omar Webair, 32, told The National newspaper.
Omar was only four when a school bus rammed into their car and his mother hugged him to protect him.
While his mother suffered a brain injury that was attended to for hours, he only had some minor abrasions.
She was eventually taken to hospital, then transferred to London for specialist treatment. Doctors declared her to be in a minimally conscious state; similar to a coma but receptive to pain.
Ms Abdulla was then sent to the UAE, where for years she was fed through a tube and provided with physiotherapy to stop her muscles deteriorating.
According to Mr Webair, in 2017, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, offered to pay for specialist treatment in Germany.
At this stage, the doctors focused on physical therapies and giving her drugs to improve her wakefulness and sleeping patterns.
“Our primary goal was to grant her fragile consciousness the opportunity to develop and prosper within a healthy body, just like a delicate plant which needs good soil to grow,” Dr Ahmad Ryll, a neurology specialist who treated Ms Abdulla, told The National.
Her son described how this treatment started to make his mom more responsive:
She was making strange sounds and I kept calling the doctors to examine her, they said everything was normal. 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.
Ms Abdulla’s condition has continued to improve steadily – she is now able to hold conversations, recite prayer lines.
“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 Mr 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.”