Woman in coma wakes up 27 years after protecting son in accident

Ms Munira Abdulla, who is from the United Arab Emirates, woke up in Schoen Clinic (left), near Munich. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/ SCHOEN-CLINIC.COM
Ms Munira Abdulla, who is from the United Arab Emirates, woke up in Schoen Clinic (left), near Munich. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/ SCHOEN-CLINIC.COM

She was in the back of a car with her four-year-old son on the way to their home in Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), when the vehicle collided with a school bus.

Ms Munira Abdulla, then 32, hugged her son to protect him, but suffered serious brain injury in the process that left her in a coma.

Doctors had believed she would never open her eyes again.

But last year, 27 years after she fell into a coma, Ms Abdulla regained consciousness in a hospital in Germany. Her son, Mr Omar Webair, said it was perhaps because she sensed he was at risk.

Mr Webair, 32, told The National, a UAE-based paper: "I never gave up on her because I always had a feeling that one day, she will wake up."

The 1991 accident left him with a mere bruise.

Ms Abdulla's journey was more desperate. She was taken to hospital and later moved to one in London. She had next to no awareness of her surroundings, but was able to feel pain. Mr Webair said he could spot her discomfort from the expressions on her face.

After that, she was brought back to a hospital in Al Ain, a city near the Oman border, where she remained for a few years, undergoing physiotherapy to prevent her muscles from degenerating. She spent years in various hospitals in the UAE, moved around due to insurance requirements.

 

In 2017, her family was offered a grant by the Crown Prince Court, an Abu Dhabi government body, for her to be transferred to Germany, where she underwent surgery to treat the weakened muscles in her limbs. At Schoen Clinic in Bad Aibling, about 50km from Munich, doctors prioritised physical therapy and controlling her epilepsy, with the aim of improving her quality of life.

In June last year, during Ms Abdulla's final week in Germany, Mr Webair was involved in a disagreement by her bedside when she began to stir.

"There was a misunderstanding in the hospital room and she sensed I was at risk, which caused her a shock," he told The National.

"She was making strange sounds and I kept calling the doctors to examine her. They said everything was normal."

But three days later, he woke up to Ms Abdulla calling his name.

"I was flying with joy," Mr Webair told The National. "For years, I have dreamt of this moment and my name was the first word she said."

Over time, his mother has become more responsive and can hold some conversations.

 

She is now receiving treatment in Abu Dhabi, where she is undergoing physiotherapy and further rehabilitation.

"I shared her story to tell people not to lose hope in their loved ones," Mr Webair said. "Don't consider them dead when they are in such a state."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2019, with the headline 'Woman in coma wakes up 27 years after protecting son in accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe