It may be a cliche, but it’s no less true that life can be taken from us at any moment. For those with unconscious loved ones on life support, however, this takes on a whole new meaning.
While the culture all around us continues to erode the value inherent in the lives of the critically ill, one son in the United Arab Emirates never gave up on his comatose mother. After nearly thirty years, his perseverance has finally paid off.
Back in 1991, Munira Abdulla picked up her little boy, Omar, from school. That day—a day that probably started off much like any other for Abdulla—her vehicle crashed into a school bus.
Abdulla, then 32, was sitting in the back seat with 4-year-old Omar while her brother-in-law drove them that day.
“When she saw the crash coming she hugged me to protect me from the blow,” said Omar, now 32 himself.
Because of his mother’s sacrifice, Omar survived the accident with just a bruise on his head. He recalled to The National how, not having access to cell phones at the time, he had waited hours for help to arrive. Abdullah was finally taken to a local hospital before being transported to one in London.
“She was completely unresponsive, with next to no awareness of her surroundings. Doctors diagnosed a minimally conscious state,” The National reports.
After a brief stint in London, Abdullah was transferred yet again to the hospital in her home city of Al Ain where she received tube-feeding and physiotherapy to keep her muscles from atrophying.
Throughout the course of his life, Omar says he walked over a mile to the hospital to visit his mother every day. Though she could not speak, he says he knew she was in deep pain. Rather than let her waste away and be forgotten, Omar never once gave up on her, even when her need for constant care led to his trouble pinning down a stable job.
“I never regretted it. I believe that, because of my support for her, God saved me from bigger troubles,” he said. “To me she was like gold; the more time passed by, the more valuable she became.”
In 2017, the UAE’s Crown Prince Court heard Abdulla’s story and, being deeply moved by her heroism and Omar’s selfless love and dedication, gifted the family a substantial grant in order to move Abdulla to a hospital in Germany where she could receive even better care. There, she received muscular surgery and treatment for her epilepsy resulting from the crash.
“We did not even ask for the grant. 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,” Omar said.
Dr. Ahmad Ryll, a neurologist who treated Abdulla in Germany, said that the hospital’s “primary goal was to grant her fragile consciousness the opportunity to develop and prosper in a healthy body, like a delicate plant that needs good soil to grow.”
After 27 years of transfers and treatment, Abdullah’s seemingly hopeless condition changed in an instant.
Omar recalled to The National that he had gotten into an argument while in his mother’s hospital room. While doctors said nothing was out of the ordinary, Omar contends that his mother “sensed” he “was at risk, which caused her a shock.” Abdulla didn’t wake up, but she did begin vocalizing and making sounds.
Then, three days later, it happened.
Abdulla awoke, and she was shouting the names of people she knew, especially Omar’s.
“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,” Omar said. “I never gave up on her because I always had a feeling that one day she will wake up.”
Abdulla still has a long road ahead of her as she continues her extensive treatments, but now she is able to do it bright-eyed and with the comfort of her wonderful son by her side.
In our culture today, many would approve or even applaud Omar for choosing to have “mercy” on his mother and end her life. Praise God that he did not go down that road!
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