Munira Abdulla was in a vegetative state in a hospital bed for more than 27 years, but then the miracle happened. Against all odds, she has recently been “awake” and can hold conversations again. Her son Omar (32): “She suddenly said my name, I can’t believe it.”
In 1991, Munira Abdulla and her brother-in-law picked up her then 4-year-old son from school in the United Arab Emirates. They crashed against a school bus. Little Omar got away with a bump on his head, his 32-year-old mother didn’t have as much luck. With serious brain damage, she ended up in the hospital. Doctors did not believe she would ever open her eyes again.
Her son Omar, now 32 years old, kept hope. “I always felt she would wake up,” he tells The National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates. He was right: last year she woke up from her coma. She can have conversations, recite Koran texts and use her wheelchair to take short trips. To the Sheikh Zayed Great Mosque, for example, which was not yet there when Munira ended up in the vegetative state. The world is very, very different than how she knew it.
But the way to her “new life” was long and difficult. According to her doctors, she was in a minimal state of consciousness after her accident. She only responded to pain stimuli. She received food through a tube, physiotherapists tried to keep her muscles somewhat intact. Omar visited her every day. “For me she was like gold. The more time passed, the more valuable she became to me, ” he says. “I believe that thanks to my support for her God has protected me from other problems.”
The big change came when crown prince Mohamed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi heard the story of Munira in 2017. He was so upset by it that he gave the family money to have the woman transferred to a specialist hospital in Germany. Munira underwent various operations on her severely shortened muscles. Doctors at the Schön Klinik Bad Aibling near Munich are fully committed to physiotherapy and epilepsy treatments. “Our goal was to develop her fragile consciousness into a healthy body, just like a delicate plant that needs good soil to grow,” says neurologist Ahmad Ryll, who treated her in Germany.
Soon it seemed that Munira became more aware of her surroundings. She was told by the doctors that they expected her to talk again soon. In June 2018, the miracle happened. She seemed to respond to a discussion her son had with the doctors. Three days later, Omar heard his mother talk for the first time in 27 years. “She spoke! She said my name, I couldn’t believe it. For years I dreamed of this moment and the first thing she said was my name!”
She started talking even more and sometimes she would even scream. “As if she relived the accident. And then she woke up,” Omar says. “Now she can tell us that she is in pain and I can have conversations with her about topics that she finds interesting. We can pray together – she remembers the texts.”
Munira Abdulla is now back in Abu Dhabi with her family and she remains under treatment to improve her posture as she cannot live without her wheelchair yet. “I tell this story so that people don’t lose their hope. Don’t think anyone is dead when they are in a coma. All those years I was told that it was a hopeless thing, but I always thought from her position. I did everything to improve her condition.”, says Omar.