Traumatic injuries to the head left her in a coma after a car crash. Her son, who was only four years old at the time, had sustained minor injuries. For 27 years, he visited her every day, drew from her love, spoke to her, and took care of her, up until the day she woke up.
Munirat Abdulla from the United Arab Emirates was 32 years old when the accident happened . In 1991, she had been driving home with her son, Omar Webair, and his uncle when a school bus collided with their vehicle. She was critically injured, and the doctors believed she’d never wake up from the coma.
The doctors in the London hospital where she was initially transferred to declared her to be in a “minimally conscious state”, stating that she could actually feel a measure of pain.
Her son never gave up hope
Speaking to The National, Omar said he never stopped believing she’d come back to him one day .
“I was four when the accident happened, and we used to live in Al Ain. That day, there was no bus at the school to take me home.” His uncle arrived with his mom to pick him up. “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.” She’d sacrificed her life to protect him.
“To me, she was like gold; the more time passed by, the more valuable she became,” he said.
He visited her daily, and upon each visit, he’d sit with her for hours and just talk. It made it difficult for him to hold down a job.
“I never regretted it. I believe that, because of my support for her, God saved me from bigger troubles,” he said.
After her stay in the London hospital, she was returned home to the UAE. Due to insurance constraints, she was moved from one hospital to the other. All through this time, she showed no signs of recovery. They fed her through a tube and engaged her in unconscious physiotherapy to keep her muscles active.
A helping hand and some saving grace
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’s Court offered the family a grant when they heard about Ms. Abdulla’s case in April 2017. She was sponsored to the Schoen Clinic, Germany, to be rehabilitated in a multidisciplinary programme which included physical therapy, epilepsy treatments, and surgery to treat her weakened limb muscles.
Speaking to The National, Ahmad Ryll, a neurologist who was one of Munirat’s doctors in Germany said: “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.”
“We did not even ask for the grant,” her son said. “I am grateful to Sheikh Mohamed [bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi] for that. Our leaders are always supportive in such situations and we are thankful for it. “I told the doctors I was expecting her to start talking again and they told me ‘you are running wild with your imagination. We are only doing rehabilitation to fix her quality of life.”
One day, in another proof of the strong bond between her and her son, Munirat actually stirred continuously when he was in an argument. Things were about to get physical, and she began to stir and make strange sounds, possibly in the protection of her child. Her son called in the doctors who declared that they were normal reactions to treatment.
“Then, three days later, I woke up to the sound of someone calling my name,” Omar said. “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.” Her son is overjoyed, and he says she can also remember the names of her family members and friends.
On the path to full recovery
She’s been responding nicely to treatment and is gradually returning to her former self. The doctors said she’s communicating reasonably well now. Despite having missed out on 27 years of his life, she’s starting to build a new relationship with her son.
“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.”
“I shared her story to tell people not to lose hope on their loved ones,” her son said. “Don’t consider them dead when they are in such a state. 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.”