A heartwarming story of never-ending hope and sacrifice

This is a wake-up call for insurers who allow red tape to get in the way of complex cases

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Munira Abdullah awakened from a 27-year-long vegetative state at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
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There are so many astonishing aspects to the story of Munira Abdulla and the lifelong devotion of her son Omar Webair that it is little wonder it has reverberated around the world. When a vehicle carrying Ms Abdulla collided with a school bus in Al Ain in 1991, she threw herself over her four-year-old son to protect him but was left in a vegetative state.

For 27 years, just as Ms Abdulla had shielded her son from the impact of the crash, Mr Webair cared for his mother, convinced she would one day defy medical consensus and wake up. And then, miraculously, in June last year, she did, uttering his name as her first word.

This is a heartwarming story of mind-boggling, ceaseless hope, love and dedication. "All those years, the doctors told me she was a hopeless case," Mr Webair told The National. Yet he remained steadfast in his care, helped by the compassion of the UAE's leaders, as her care in a hospital in Germany was funded by the Crown Prince's Court after her case was publicised.

It is worth remembering, however, that while Ms Abdulla benefited from much-improved healthcare 27 years after she was first admitted, not everyone gets a movie-style happy ending.

The struggles Mr Webair faced to find suitable long-term care for his mother highlight the strain such responsibility can place on families, particularly when insurance companies do not meet the full costs. Pressure to relocate her to fulfil the requirements of insurers was undoubtedly a source of great anguish. This should be a wake-up call for insurers who allow red tape to get in the way on complex, lengthy cases. Fortunately, her son refused to give up.

Ms Abdulla has a long road to recovery ahead of her. She is able to speak – albeit with difficulty – and recite Quranic verses. But she has woken up to a radically different world and in few places is that change more profound than in the UAE.

There is symbolism behind her first outing to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which had not yet been envisaged when she lost consciousness.

Guaranteeing her quality of life is now up to her doctors and her family. But for the wider world, Ms Abdulla’s story sends a powerful message: to never lose hope.