Woman had gone to sleep after leaving charcoal burning in her room to keep it warm
A woman in Dubai has miraculously regained consciousness after being in coma for nearly eight months.
The Ethiopian housemaid had slipped into coma after suffering from severe brain damage due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen). The 31-year-old woman had gone to sleep after leaving charcoal burning in her room to keep it warm. The smoke build-up led to carbon monoxide poisoning and she was left unconscious. The next morning as she lay unresponsive in her room, her sponsors called Dubai Ambulance who broke open her room and rushed her to the Aster Hospital Al Qusais.
Severe brain damage
Dr Chaitanya Prakash Prabhu, critical care medicine (specialist), Aster Hospital, Qusais, who attended to her, said: “While the vitals of the patient Tsige Geromi Guta were stable, she was not responding at all, and had slipped into coma due to hypoxia related to carbon monoxide poisoning. To help such patients breathe better we intubate them to protect the airway. We immediately put a tube inside her trachea and put her on ventilator support, but she remained unresponsive for the next two days. Her MRI revealed that she had suffered severe hypoxic damage to the brain and her EEG reconfirmed the same.”
Dr Prabhu said it was a wonder she regained consciousness as a majority of patients on such low coma scale do not survive for long. “Only about 20 per cent survive with significant residual neurological deficits, and only 5-10 per cent show some improvement. However, with excellent nursing care and perseverance of the doctors and staff of the hospital, Guta began showing some improvement.”
In February, doctors conducted a tracheostomy and managed to wean her off the ventilator, while hoping for her neurological recovery. Guta soon began showing improvement as the hospital continued supplying her with high rate of oxygen, physiotherapy and optimum nutrition through food pipes.
“We began seeing significant improvement in her condition since June as she began to respond to our instructions, she opened her eyes and displayed emotions such as crying, smiling and even started sipping water. We then removed her feeding pipes as her swallowing improved and her upper limbs began functioning,” Dr Prabhu told Khaleej Times.
Calling it a miraculous recovery, Dr Prabhu said that usually such patients improve in the first two months or else their survival rate is quite low. “However, Guta emerged a fighter and surprised all with her recovery nearly eight months after slipping into coma, which is rare. With regular physiotherapy and care, she is now able to move her upper limbs, but is not independently able to sit or walk as she still hasn’t recovered fully. We are hope that with neuro rehabilitation and physiotherapy she will improve. She has shown a dramatic improvement.”
Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO, Aster Hospitals & Clinics, UAE, said: “The Almighty works in mysterious ways. This patient landed in our emergency department in a life-threatening condition, however, the clinical team acted promptly, and she survived. It is a miracle that the patient survived such a serious hypoxia and we look forward to her reuniting with her family.”
The hospital has also contacted the Ethiopian Consulate to help in the repatriation of the patient. “Guta is on her road to recovery but needs to be with her family, as family support and communication in her own language, can provide her a constant stimuli to improve,” added Dr Prabhu.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide, which mainly is produced due to incomplete combustion of fuels, if inhaled by a person binds itself to the heamoglobin molecules that carry oxygen. It has a strong affinity towards heamoglobin – almost 250 times more than what oxygen has towards haemoglobin – so it deprives the brain of oxygen. This is called hypoxic brain injury, which can be confirmed by another test called EEG.