The story of an Emirati mother who miraculously came back to life after being in a coma for 27 years is making international headlines.
Identified as Munira Abdulla, the woman fell into a coma following a devastating car crash in 1991; she was 32-years-old at the time. The incident left her with a serious brain injury, which doctors thought she'd never recover from. However, she regained consciousness last year while undergoing treatment at a German hospital.
Speaking to The National, Abdulla's son Omar Webair shared details of the accident that changed his family forever and spoke of his mother's incredible recovery.
"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," Webair said.
After Abdulla was notified that her son needed a ride home, she picked him up in a car driven by her brother-in-law. On the way back, the family's vehicle tragically collided with a school bus.
"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 explained.
At the time, Webair walked away from the incident uninjured but realized his mother was in critical condition. She was taken to a hospital hours after the accident since "there were no mobile phones and we could not call an ambulance" and was later transferred for treatment in London. After doctors failed to bring her back to consciousness, she was moved back to the UAE and stayed at a local medical center for a few years.
Abdulla's son never gave up
Webair never gave up hope that his mother would wake up someday and continued to visit her in the hospital, spending hours by her bedside whenever he could. The woman was moved from one UAE hospital to the other due to medical insurance issues but her condition remained unimproved for years.
In April 2017, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Court heard of Abdulla's story and issued a grant enabling her family to enroll her in a comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment program based in Germany. After months of surgeries and treatment, the woman started to gain awareness of the people around her but it wasn't anything major. However, in June last year, she woke up and called her son's name.
The first signs of Abdulla's recovery came after her son had an argument with someone at her bedside, prompting her to show a reaction to her surroundings.
"There was a misunderstanding in the hospital room and she sensed I was at risk, which caused her a shock. 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," Webair explained.
His mom is now on the road to recovery
Over time, Abdulla became more responsive and was moved back to Abu Dhabi where she continues to receive treatment. According to The National, a report from Mafraq Hospital last month said she is "currently able to communicate in a very reasonable manner, especially in familiar situations."
When visited by press at the hospital, the woman was able to answer questions but still had difficulty forming sentences. She recently visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which wasn't built the time she had the accident.
When asked why he decided to share his mother's story, her son explained it was to give people hope.
"I shared her story to tell people not to lose hope on their loved ones. 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," he said.
After her story went viral, Webair thanked people for their outpouring of love and support for his mother.
Abdulla's case is considered rare
Abdulla's recovery is considered miraculous and quite rare given there are only a few recorded cases of people recovering consciousness after several years.
One of the most famous of those cases is that of Terry Wallis, an American man who made a recovery after being in a coma for 19 years. The first word he said upon regaining consciousness was "mom."
Doctors who studied Wallis' brain said "it was able to grow new connections, effectively rewiring itself after almost two decades."